Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect resulting in the incomplete formation of the spine during embryonic development.
Spina Bifida can result in numerous different symptoms that can be categorised into mobility problems, bladder and bowel problems, and hydrocephalus (excess fluid on the brain).
The exact cause has not been identified, but a number of factors that may increase the risk of Spina Bifida are associated with events during pregnancy. This includes folic acid deficiency in the pregnant mother’s diet, a family history of Spina Bifida, medications taken by the pregnant mother such as anti-epileptics and bipolar disorder medications, and obesity of the pregnant mother. Spina Bifida sometimes occurs in conjunction with other genetic disorders, such as Down’s syndrome.
Treatment options for Spina Bifida are extensive due to the numerous health complications the disease can cause. A care plan is usually devised for the individual that is re-evaluated as the patient gets older. Surgery may initially be carried out to correct the spine and to insert a shunt to relieve the hydrocephalus. Medication may be required for various symptoms, as well as supportive therapy such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and mobility aids. Urinary incontinence and bowel incontinence may also be treated.