10 Causes of Spina Bifida

By jolene
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Spina bifida is a birth defect where the affected individual has an incomplete closing of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and the backbone. It can be divided into three types: spina bifida occulta, myelomeningocele, and meningocele. It most commonly occurs in the lower back. However, it can also occur at the neck or middle back.

Depending on the severity, there can be little to no symptoms. Signs of spina bifida include the presence of a dark spot, hairy patch, swelling, or dimple at the spine. A meningocele usually causes mild symptoms. A myelomeningocele is the most severe form and can lead to difficulty walking, hydrocephalus, latex allergy, tethered spinal cord, and issues with bladder control. Diagnosis can be made before or after a child is born. It involves amniocentesis, ultrasound, and other medical imaging options. For an open spina bifida (myelomeningocele), treatment necessitates surgery to close it. A tethered spinal cord is also surgically repaired while a hydrocephalus will require the insertion of a shunt. Other treatment includes urinary catheterization and devices to help with movement (wheelchair or crutches).

Estimates show that 15 percent of individuals have spina bifida occulta. In the United States, prevalence averages about 0.4 per 1,000 individuals while in India, 1.9 per 1,000 births.

Cause #1: Family History

A family history of medical conditions is always important. It can help predict the likelihood of certain disorders and traits for the following generations. For example, a positive family history for heart diseases, high blood pressure, and cancer would increase the likelihood of an individual having the disorder.

In this case, it has been observed that a family who has a child with spina bifida has a higher risk of having another child with a neural tube defect compared to other families. The risk increases to 1 in 20 to 30 subsequent pregnancies. In a family with two children who are affected, the risk further increases to a 50 percent likelihood of having a subsequent child with spina bifida. The risk also increases if there are second- and third-degree relatives with spina bifida.

Spina Bifida

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