Spina bifida is a neural tube defect that forms in a baby’s spinal area during pregnancy. It is usually due to the spinal column and spinal cord not aligning correctly together.
The neural tube is what becomes the infant’s brain and spinal cord, and their protective structures. Babies with spina bifida have an underdeveloped neural tube that causes defects in the spinal cord and the bones of the spine.
Spina bifida can range from mild to severe, depending on the size and the location of the defect and its complications. Early treatment for spina bifida includes surgery in the womb before birth. If this doesn’t resolve the problem, surgical intervention can also be performed after birth.
Symptoms of Spina Bifida
Spina bifida may not come with symptoms, especially if the spinal nerves are not affected. However, visible symptoms may still present themselves as a dimple or birthmark above the location of the defect in the baby’s back. The “hidden” type is called spina bifida occulta, which is often only discovered later when the person has a scan to check for something else.
A moderate type of spina bifida, called meningocele, is when there is a fluid-filled sac that is visible on the baby’s back. This is a result of the protective membranes around the spinal cord pushing out through the vertebrae.
Severe spina bifida is called myelomeningocele, which affects the development of the spinal cord. Because this causes the spinal column to push through the skin, and sensitive structures are thereby exposed, it can lead to life-threatening complications for the baby.
Causes and Risk Factors
The medical community is not sure of what causes spina bifida. However, there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of a fetus developing spina bifida:
- Babies diagnosed with spina bifida usually have a family member or relative who had neural tube defects.
- Pregnant women with folate deficiency are at a higher risk of giving birth to babies with neural defects such as spina bifida.
Vitamin B-9 is crucial to the normal development of a fetus and preventing complications such as spina bifida. This is why pregnant women are advised to eat a diet rich in folic acid.
Taking medication during pregnancy, such as anti-seizure medication, can interfere with the body’s absorption of folic acid and cause neural defects in the fetus. Pregnant women who are obese, have a diet that is high in sugar, or are diagnosed with diabetes also have a risk of having a baby with neural tube complications.
If you have any of these risk factors, let your doctor know so you can make changes to your diet and supplement any deficiencies to prevent neural tube complications.
Spine Doctor in Maryland
Our medical team at the Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland is a trusted leader in spine care in Maryland. For over 40 years, we have provided our patients in Catonsville, Columbia, and Eldersburg with high-quality individualized spine care. We use the most innovative treatment methods and therapies, and we focus on making our patients feel welcome and comfortable during their visit with us.
Our team of orthopedic specialists and surgeons will work on a treatment method that will have optimal results for your child. Call us at (410) 644-1880 or (855) 4MD-BONE (463-2663), or schedule an appointment online now. We look forward to serving you.