- Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spinal column of a fetus does not develop (close) properly. Usually, this occurs during the first month of the gestation period, before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
- According to the Spina Bifida Association of America (SBAA), spina bifida occurs in 7 out of every 10,000 live births in the United States.
- Spina bifida is more common than muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis combined.
- In 1996, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study on the incidence of spina bifida among different ethnic groups. The results are as follows:
1. Hispanics (most at risk)
3. American Indian / Alaskan Native
5. Asian / Pacific Islander (least at risk)
- Women of childbearing age are encouraged to take 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid daily before and during the first three (3) months of pregnancy in order to lower the risk of giving birth to a child with spina bifida.
- About 80 percent of people with Spina Bifida have hydrocephalus that needs treatment. Hydrocephalus is the condition resulting from the accumulation of excess cerebrospinal fluid in and around the brain. Treatment refers to “shunting,” or inserting a shunt (a tube with a valve). The shunt’s valve helps to drain the cerebrospinal fluid so it won’t build up around the brain.
- Most shunts are inserted within days or weeks of a child’s birth. Doing so could prevent the following symptoms: growth in head size, feeling lethargic, nausea, problems with balance and coordination, mental retardation, urinary incontinence, and memory loss.
- About 20 percent of people with Spina Bifida will need more than one shunt revision surgery.
*More to come soon!