It results from the failure of the spine to close properly during the first month of pregnancy. In severe cases, the spinal cord protrudes through the back and may be covered by skin or a thin membrane. Surgery to close a newborn’s back is generally performed within 24 hours after birth to minimize the risk of infection and to preserve existing function in the spinal cord. Because of the paralysis resulting from the damage to the spinal cord, people born with spina bifida may need surgeries and other extensive medical care. The condition can also cause bowel and bladder complications. A large percentage of children born with spina bifida also have hydrocephalus, the accumulation of fluid in the brain.
Hydrocephalus is controlled by a surgical procedure called “shunting” which relieves the fluid build up in the brain by redirecting it into the abdominal area. Most children born with spina bifida live well into adulthood as a result of today’s sophisticated medical techniques. Recent studies have shown that one factor that increases the risk of having an neural tube defect baby is low folic acid status before conception and during the first few weeks of pregnancy. If all women of childbearing age were to consume 0. 4 mg of folic acid prior to becoming pregnant and during the first trimester of pregnancy, the incidence of folic acid preventable spina bifida and anencephaly could be reduced by up to 75%! Firstly do NOT diet during pregnancy or while you are trying to conceive without seeking medical advice.
It affects fertility, and may take important nutrients from your baby. Foods you should consider giving up or reducing intakes of include canned fish, soft cheeses, and packaged/junk foods. You should pay careful attention to local warnings about fish in your area. Fish is a healthy food for pregnancy as long as it is not contaminated. In spina bifida, at some point along the spine the outer part of the vertebrae (the bones of the spine) are not completely joined. In more severe forms of spina bifida, the spinal cord and covering protrude through the opening.
Within a few days of birth, the site of the lesion on the back is operated on to ensure that it has a good skin covering. This is performed to stop infection and also for cosmetic reasons. To prevent spina bifida, insertion of a shunt to drain excess brain fluid, bracing and surgery to achieve standing and walking. Early and aggressive physical therapy to improve range of motion and to promote normal motor development, bowel and bladder management programs, sometimes including intermittent catheterization, and psychological counseling to monitor the child’s mental status and emotional development.