Spina bifida is a birth defect of the spine that occurs in 1 out of every 1000 live births. It is a condition that cannot be cured, but can be managed with medical treatment. For many people living with spina bifida, the symptoms may worsen over time or present new challenges as they age. Learn all about this lifelong condition and find potential treatments for managing the effects.
What is Spina Bifida?
Spina bifida is a type of birth defect that affects the spinal cord, caused by the incomplete formation of certain portions of the spine. An opening in the skin usually marks affected areas. This opens the baby up to a variety of medical conditions and disabilities including paralysis, bladder and bowel control issues, growth and cognitive delays, orthopedic problems, and possibly learning disabilities as they get older.
How Does Spina Bifida Impact Different Ages?
Generally, spina bifida can get worse over time. As the affected individual gets older, they may experience different problems and complications depending on how their condition was treated as a child. It is possible for individuals with spina bifida to live into adulthood with few problems or disabilities, but the specific effects vary greatly from one person to another. Regular check-ups with qualified medical professionals are important for helping manage issues that arise in different stages of growth.
Is There a Treatment for Spina Bifida?
Yes, there are treatments available for spina bifida. Treatment options depend on the type of spina bifida, the severity of the condition, and whether or not areas around the nerves have been damaged. Treatment may include physical therapy, medications, surgery and/or lifestyle changes such as physical exercise. Early treatment is essential for ensuring long-term health and satisfaction with life with spina bifida.
Are There Complications Associated with Spina Bifida?
Yes, spina bifida can lead to a number of complications, including difficulties with mobility and sensation, bladder and bowel difficulties, deformities of the back, hips or legs, learning disabilities, hearing loss or vision problems that worsen with age. In addition, some patients may experience seizures or mental illness such as depression. It is important for patients to learn about all potential complications in order to seek treatment when necessary.
What can I do to Prevent Spina Bifida?
While spina bifida cannot be prevented, there are several steps you can take to reduce the risk. Make sure that you get enough folic acid in your diet, either through fortified foods or a supplement. It’s also important to avoid drinking alcohol or taking certain medications during pregnancy that could increase the risk of spina bifida. Finally, make sure to practice good hygiene, as poor hygiene can be a factor in developing spina bifida.