What is Spina Bifida? Explore Some Facts

Spina bifida in Latin means split spine. It is a congenital irregularity associated with development of the body. This is mainly caused when the embryonic neural tube is does not get closed properly. Few Vertebraes on top of the spinal cord, do not get  formed fully and hence in the process remains open. In case there is a large enough opening of that sort , there is a possibility that a portion of the spinal cord can protrude through that opening.Sometimes the spinal chord might by a outer sac filled with fluide and hence can result in damage. Some common defects that can occur  because of damages caused in the neural tubes include anencephaly. People suffering from this condition have parts of their neutal tube that will later turn into cerebrum not closing properly.Another condition called encephalocele can also occur because of this and lead to portions of  the brain not being developed or used properly.

Spina-bifida

It has got three identifiable categories, spina bifida custica with meningocele, spina bifida occulta & spina bifida cystica with myelomeningocele. The most usual area for this anomalous formation is the sacral as well as lumbar locations.

This type of birth defect is also known as neural tube defect. This condition happens when the bones of vertebrae/spine don’t develop well around sections of the spinal chord of the baby. It could be severe or mild.

What Causes Spina Bifida

The specific reason behind this ailment is still a mystery. The exact reasons behind malformation by incomplete closure of the neural tube is unknown. Scientists are of the opinion that genetic as well as environmental & nutritional elements can play a major part. Researchers suspect that inadequate consumtion of vitamin B, folic acid (for expecting mothers), can lead to such ailment as well as other neural tube problems too.

Some of the Symptoms of Spini Bifida:

Symptoms mostly depends on the severity of the disease. In mild cases children do not really show any kind of disturbance. For severe cases, symptoms are:

  • Bladder problems, like urine leaking or having difficulties in during stool passing.
  • Very little or complete absence of feelings from the legs, feet or even arms & because of that they are not able to move these parts of their body.
  • Curvy spine, like scoliosis.
  • Building up fluid in their brain, which leads to problemetic vision, seizures & learning problem too.

Treatments for Spina Bifida are:

  • Several treatments are available to give some relief from such ailments.
  • Surgery on the spine
  • Surgery for treating hydrocephalus
  • Some enabling technology, like software for helping in writing or for school work, electric or manual wheelchair.
  • Occupational therapy & physiotherapy to enhance independence in their daily life.
  • Treatment for urinary as well as bowel ailments.

Complications Arising Out of Spina Bifida:

Latex allergy –  Skin rashes, watery eyes, allergic reaction etc.

Shunt malfunction – Vomiting, drowsiness, enhancing irritability, back pain etc.

Shunt blockage – Head growing larger, crossed eyes etc.

Shunt infection – Neck stiffness, high fever, inability etc.

Sex and sexuality –

Sexuality is a very touchy subject among teenagers. As and when they attain puberty, sexual feelings , thoughts  arise in their minds. They attain  their sexual  identity during this period. Teenagers suffering from this ailment get nervous about the fact whether they would have the ability to maintain a healthy sexual relationship.

Discussing such problems with parents can be tricky for teenagers.They can talk with qualified professionals , social workers. A healthy percentage of young people suffering from this aliment end up having  healthy relationships as they grow older. In some cases however , some of them may suffer from erectile dysfunction resulting from nerve damage. However this is nothing that cannot be treated through medicines.

Along with some health conditions, it can also leave some mental effect on those who are living with this condition.

Possibilities of Detecting  Spina Bifida before Birth

3 major tests are available out their for detecting this ailment.

  • During the 16-18th  weeks of pregnancy a blood test called alphafetoprotein can detect a fetus with spina bifida. It’s accuracy rate is around 75-80%.
  • A sonogram or ultrasound of the fetus can also reveal the sign of spina bifida, like open spine.
  • A test called maternal amniocentesis, where a thin needle is used to get a very small quantity of fluid from the womb. This test can also reveal the protein levels.