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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What is spina bifida?
Spina bifida is a birth defect involving the spine, spinal cord and the protective covering of the spinal cord called the meninges. Spina bifida occurs when the cells that form the neural tube don't 'zip' up correctly, leaving part of the spinal cord or meninges …
What are the symptoms of spina bifida?
Depending on the spinal location, type and severity of spina bifida, various signs and symptoms may be present. These may include: reduced sensation or a degree of paralysis in the lower part of the body; various degrees of urinary or bowel …
What causes spina bifida?
Spina bifida is caused by abnormal folding of cells during the early stages of an embryo's development (embryogenesis). The exact reason why this occurs is unknown, but genetic and nutritional factors, particularly lack of folate during early pregnancy, appear to …
How is spina bifida diagnosed?
If you are pregnant, there are prenatal tests that can be performed to identify any birth defects, such as spina bifida. Blood tests of the mother can identify abnormally high levels of alpha-fetoprotein, which is indicative of spina bifida. Alpha-fetoprotein …
How is spina bifida treated?
In the mildest cases of spina bifida, no treatment is required. For more severe cases, surgery to reinsert or cover the protruding meninges and spinal cord can be performed. In some cases, a shunt (hollow tube) may also be required to drain excess fluid from …
Can spina bifida be cured?
Spina bifida cannot be cured. The prognosis varies with the severity of spina bifida. In most cases of mild spina bifida, there are no symptoms and an individual can go on to live their life without any restrictions. In more moderate cases, surgery can be …
Can spina bifida be prevented?
To help prevent spina bifida, take adequate amounts of folate during pregnancy, by eating foods high in folate and/or by taking folate tablets. 0.5 mg of folic acid daily for a month before and three months after conception can reduce the risk of spina …
Are there different types of spina bifida?
Depending on the location along the spine and the amount of protrusion of meninges and spinal cord, different types of spina bifida are formed. The mildest form of spina bifida is known as occulta. People with occulta have part of the vertebrae …
About this article
Author: Dr Bow Tauro PhD, BSc (Hons)
First answered: 24 Nov 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Votes: 1143 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Spina bifida