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Spina Bifida

Essay by   •  March 9, 2011  •  Essay  •  393 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,007 Views

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Spina Bifida is the most common birth defect within all Neural Tube Defects (NTDs). Spina Bifida occurs when a baby is developing and part of the spinal cord and spine don't grow the way they should, leaving an opening in the back where the spinal cord may bulge out. It affects approximately one out of every one thousand newborns in the United States every year.

Spina Bifida can appear in three different forms: Occulta, Meningocele, and Myelomeningocele. Occulta is usually symptomless with only a small defect or gap in one of the vertebrae. The spinal cord and nerves are usually normal. Meningocele is the rarest form of Spina Bifida. When a baby has Meningocele, he/she may develop a lump (which can very in size) on their back. The lump consists of membranes surrounding the spinal cord and pokes through the open part of the spine. The lump can be surgically removed allowing for normal development. Myelomeningocele is the most severe form of Spina Bifida. In this form, the lump that appears on the back holds both the membranes surrounding the spinal canal and its nerve roots, and sometimes, the cord itself.

Severe cases of Spina Bifida almost always cause other disabilities along with the defect. Some of them are: paralysis, hydrocephalus, bowel and bladder problems, and orthopedic problems. Having paralysis will require lifelong assistance from wheelchairs, braces, or crutches to help them get around. With hydrocephalus the baby will have increased amount of fluid in the brain causing the head to be overly large. Bowel and bladder problems cause the child to have damaged nerves and urinary tract infections. Orthopedic problems include scoliosis, kyphosis, and clubfoot.

There is no specific treatment for Spina Bifida once it has occurred, though you can attempt to prevent it from every happening. To prevent Spina Bifida, the mother should supplement her diet with folic acid prior to pregnancy. This decreases the risk of Spina Bifida up to seventy-five percent.

Some of the organizations that are researching and trying to prevent Spina Bifida are: The Spina Bifida Association, The Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (ASBAH), and International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IFSBH).

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