What is Spina Bifida?
Spina bifida, or “split spine,” occurs when the spinal cord and spine do not connect normally. This happens during the early stages of pregnancy when a baby’s spine and spinal cord are forming. Each year, about 1,500 babies born in the United States have spina bifida or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine.
Symptoms of this condition vary, depending on the type spina bifida the child has. There are three types of spina bifida: spina bifida occulta, meningocele, and myelomeningocele. Some forms of the condition are mild, like spina bifida occulta which many people have and do not know they have it. The most severe form is myelomeningocele, which causes nerve damage and other disabilities.
A proactive approach is essential
When a child has spina bifida, surgery is often required and an ongoing plan from a team of medical profes- sionals is necessary. Children with spina bifida have a range of symptoms which may include mobility chal- lenges, gastrointestinal disorders, hydrocephalus, and latex allergies.
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Is there hope for kids with spina bifida?
Medical technology has advanced dramatically in the past few decades, leading to positive out- comes for people with spina bifida. Most chil- dren affected by spina bifida do well in school and sports, and 90% live to be adults. Some cas- es of the condition are mild and require little medical intervention.
What challenges come with having a child with spina bifida?
As with many disabilities impacting children, the time spent in medical offices can limit typical childhood activities. Kids with spina bifida may face physical disabilities, sleep disorders, and multiple surgeries. Additional- ly, they have a higher risk of latex allergies and reactions to natural rubber products.