Birth Defects During Pregnancy

Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida is a native spinal disease where unclosed and not fully developed spinal cord is exposed in the backbone. Spina bifida can cause many problems. It is a neural tube defect which begins during pregnancy. The other problems related to birth defects in a child are:

Down Syndrome

Cleft lip and cleft palate

Congenital heart disease

What is Spina Bifida Defect?

Spina Bifida

The occurrence of neural tube defects (NTDs) is possible in every pregnant woman however as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some risk factors known for increasing the probability of occurrence of NTD are:

  • Previous NTD affected pregnancy can increase the probability of another such pregnancy by approximately 20%.
  • The risk can increase due to the use of any kind of anti-seizure medicine.
  • Medically diagnosed obesity can also increase the risk of NTDs.
  • Lower socioeconomic status can also increase the risk of NTD occurrence.

Causes of spina bifida

Causes of spina bifida are still unclear, but we will discuss some commonly known reasons here:

  • Deficiency of iron and folic acid

Iron and folic acid are very important for the proper development of the child during pregnancy. It helps to develop healthy bones and structure of the baby. If a pregnant woman does not take the required amount of Iron and folic acid as prescribed by the doctor, it can cause major bone related problems for the baby. Spina bifida is one of them. 400 micrograms of folic acid per day are what doctors suggest to pregnant women which can reduce the risk of neural tube defects by 70%.

  • Deficiency of proteins and vitamins

    Proteins help to build skin tissue and it also helps to rebuild damaged tissues of our body. A pregnant woman needs more protein and vitamins than a normal woman. Lacking these vitamins can develop the risk of spina bifida.

  • Hereditary

    If anyone has a family history of neural tube defect it can increase the chances of this disease being passed on to future generations. Though hereditary or family history can be a cause for NTD, 95% times it occurs in women without any such person or family history.

  • Common diseases

    A pregnant woman suffering from diseases like diabetes, obesity, hormonal problems or any type of disorder, then chances of spina bifida defect can increase for the baby.

Effects of spina bifida on children

There are different effects of spina bifida on different people. However, its worst form results in hydrocephalus in approximately 90% of children suffering from it. Hydrocephalus is a problem of fluid in the brain which can only be treated by inserting a stunt in the brain through surgery to drain out the fluid. This stunt once placed, remains inside the brain for the lifetime.

Other symptoms and effects of Spina Bifida 

Spina Bifida

  • Paralysis
  • Weakness
  • Numbness in legs
  • Urinary problems
  • Digestion problems
  • Limping while walking
  • Difficulty in reading and learning

Diagnosing spina bifida

 Screening or ultrasound scan and AFT or triple test can help in detecting spina bifida during pregnancy.

 Spina bifida treatment

Following treatments are suggested for spina bifida related problems

  • Surgery during pregnancy

    If doctors find some symptoms of spina bifida in the scan, they can prescribe surgery during the second trimester of pregnancy to repair the tissues of the spinal cord of the unborn baby.

  • Surgery after delivery

    This surgery can be done according to the doctor’s suggestion in which the gap in the spinal cord can be closed and tissues can be sealed.

  • Therapies for physical problems

    Patients can take therapies according to their problems. The doctor can suggest some exercises for numbness in legs and paralysis.

  • Treatment for the urinary problem

    The patient can take treatment for UTI ( urinary tract infection ). You should go for the routine kidney test to check any other illness.

  • Treatment for digestion problems

    A patient can take treatment for bowel or gastric problems. You can do some routine blood test and ultrasound scan to check the condition of organs and any other illness.

Can you walk if you have spina bifida?

Spina Bifida

Movement with spina bifida effects again depends on person to person. Usually, doctors say that movement and walking are not possible or difficult for people suffering from spina bifida. However, it may not be the case for everyone. Though not normally but spina bifida patients can walk with or without any support.

How long can a person live with spina bifida?

The rate of deaths before birth due to spina bifida is around 5% and the average lifespan of people suffering from it can be 30 to 40 years. With medical and technological advancement, it has become possible to diagnose the problem and treat them effectively thus increasing the quality and lifespan for spina bifida patients.

Even if medical science has helped in early diagnosis and treatment of diseases like spina bifida. Still, it is better to prevent such life-threatening and ruining defects through the proper intake of vitamins and proteins like folic acid that help in preventing the occurrence of these defects.

“Enjoy your Path to Mom. Relish every moment!”

Disclaimer: All content on this website, including medical opinion and other health-related information, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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