Spina Bifida is a significant birth defect wherein the spinal column has a marked congenital cleft with a hernial protrusion of the spinal cord. In other words, this condition disturbs the proper formation of the spine during the development of the embryo. During pregnancy, the embryo’s vertebral column that is contained in the spine would gradually lock. However, offspring diagnosed with this condition would suffer a spinal abnormality with a vertebral column that is unlocked and opened, causing a protrusion within the spinal cord.
Unfortunately, the cause of the Spina Bifida remains unknown. However, doctors suggest that genetics plays a huge factor in this birth defect.
Types of Spina Bifida and Symptoms:
Spina bifida occurs in various forms of severity, depending on the type of condition. Below are two main types of Spina Bifida with the associated symptoms:
Spina Bifida Occulta – Spina Bifida Occulta is viewed as the most common type of Spina Bifida. This is a mild and often asymptomatic, in which there is no protrusion of the spinal cord since the opening is exceptionally small. In most cases, babies will not experience any pain or symptoms.
Myelomeningocele – This type of Spina Bifida is viewed as the most serious form that may necessitate urgent care. In this condition, the spinal cord opening protrudes from the spinal canal, forming a sac under the skin. This sac, in consequence, is known to cause damage and neurological symptoms that can hospitalize an infant. This condition may also cause such symptoms and disorders as muscle weakness, numbness, paralysis, seizures. Those who are diagnosed with this condition may also suffer birth defects such as scoliosis, deformed feet and others.
As mentioned earlier, Spina Bifida Occulta is a mild and asymptomatic condition that generally does not require any treatment. Most physicians do not feel a need to recommend any form of minimally invasive or non-surgical treatment as babies do not feel any pain or symptoms.
However, infants with Myelomeningocele may need to undergo surgery in order to repair and close the opening of the vertebrae. The risk of preventing infection or other development defects is minimized if early surgical intervention is conducted. However, treatment will continue after the initial surgery is performed, since irreparable nerve damage has already taken place. Physical therapy is a treatment that is often recommended following surgery to amplify the child’s spinal deficiency with the means of a brace or crutches.