Chiari Malformation Type 2 and Spina Bifida are two conditions that often occur together during fetal development, due to a defect of the spine in the fetal stage. This article will explore the causes, symptoms and treatment for these two syndromes, and how they affect fetal development.
What is Chiari Malformation Type 2?
Chiari Malformation Type 2 is a congenital abnormality characterised by the displacement of part of the cerebellum, or lower brain stem, at the base of the skull into the cervical spinal canal. This can lead to a small opening in the spine called a myelomeningocele and a protrusion of fluid, muscles and other tissue that can cause neurological problems.
How Does Chiari Malformation Type 2 Affect Fetal Development?
Chiari Malformation type 2 can have severe effects on fetal development, resulting in the protrusion of fluid and other tissues through the small opening caused by displacement of part of the cerebellum at the base of the skull. This affects the formation of neural tissue, especially in the spinal cord, leading to biomechanical deformities such as spina bifida. Other complications may include hydrocephalus and difficulty in breathing due to compression of the lower brainstem and potentially compromised neurological control.
How Are Spina Bifida and Chiari Malformation Type 2 Related?
Spina bifida and Chiari Malformation Type 2 (CM2) can co-occur, as both result from abnormal development of the fetal spine . CM2 is a congenital condition wherein part of the brain lacks the means to form normally during fetal development, leading to displacement of parts of the cerebellum at the base of the skull. This in turn causes abnormal formation of neural tissue, leading to deformities such as Spina Bifida. Furthermore, CM2 affects proper drainage of cerebrospinal fluids and may lead to increased pressure in the skull (hydrocephalus). As such, spina bifida and CM2 are closely related conditions that have implications on fetal health and can have serious consequences if left untreated.
What Are the Treatment Options for Expectant Mothers with a Diagnosis?
If a medical practitioner has diagnosed an expectant mother with CM2 and spina bifida, then the most appropriate treatment may involve surgery for both conditions. In some cases, surgery on the fetus may be an option, as certain treatments can improve quality of life in unborn babies. However, due to the risks associated with prenatal surgery, this course of action is often not recommended. Furthermore, proper vitamins and minerals have been shown to reduce the severity of spina bifida abnormalities. Exercising, avoiding alcohol and tobacco use, and taking folic acid are other important lifestyle rules that should be followed by all pregnant women to keep their unborn baby healthy.
What Should I Do If I'm at Risk of Having a Baby Impacted by Spina Bifida and/or Chiari Malformation Type 2?
If you are at risk of having a baby impacted by spina bifida and/or Chiari Malformation Type 2, it is important to seek medical advice and discuss the risks and options with your doctor. Depending on your individual risk factors, an ultrasound or MRI may be recommended to check for signs of cognitive impairment. This will involve looking out for correlations between the spinal canal and the brain stem, fluid collection around the spine, or evidence of underdeveloped tissue in certain areas. After conducting tests, your doctor will be able to provide you with detailed information about what to do throughout your pregnancy and after birth.