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Spina Bifida is part of a group of birth defects called neural tube defects. The neural tube is the embryonic structure that eventually develops into the baby’s brain, spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them. Spina Bifida occurs in various forms of severity and in babies with Spina Bifida, a portion of the neural tube fails to develop causing defects in the spinal cord and in the bones of the spine. Some of the common signs and symptoms of Spina Bifida include abnormal tuft of hair, collection of fat, birthmark, seizures, muscle weakness of the legs and many more.
HOW IS SPINA BIFIDA DIAGNOSED?
In most cases, spina bifida is diagnosed prenatally, or before birth. However, some mild cases may go unnoticed until after birth (postnatal). Very mild forms (spina bifida occulta), in which there are no symptoms, may never be detected. The alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test is a blood test done between the 16th and 18th weeks of pregnancy. In most cases of spina bifida aperta, doctors can see the defect on a prenatal ultrasound. Amniocentesis also can help determine whether a baby has spina bifida. Individuals with the more severe forms of spina bifida often have muscle weakness in their feet, hips, and legs that result in deformities that may be present at birth. Doctors may use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computed tomography (CT) scan to get a clearer view of the spinal cord and vertebrae. If hydrocephalus is suspected, the doctor may request a CT scan and/or X-ray of the skull to look for extra cerebrospinal fluid inside the brain.
HOW IS SPINA BIFIDA TREATED?
Treatment of Spina Bifida depends on the severity of the condition. Meningocele requires surgery to put back the meninges. Myelomeningocele requires surgery after 24 to 48 hrs after birth. Prenatal surgery may be done before the 26th week of pregnancy to repair the spinal cord. Ongoing care is also required in babies who have been operated for Spina Bifida
DID YOU KNOW?
Neural tube usually develop early in pregnancy and closes by the 28th day after conception