Your Pregnancy - - Pregnancy Files -

The name spina bi­fida means “split spine”. Think of your baby’s spine as a zip that gets done up around his spinal cord, which is the line of nerves that con­nect his brain to his body. When it doesn’t close up prop­erly, a gap is formed through which th­ese nerves pro­trude. There are dif­fer­ent types of spina bi­fida, both open and closed. The myelomeningo­cele type (SBM) is the most se­ri­ous form of open spina bi­fida. In this form, a soft, un­pro­tected area is left, which can bulge through the skin as a dark bag. This bag con­sists of spinal nerves, cere­brospinal fluid and meninges (the mem­brane sur­round­ing the brain and spinal cord). It’s ex­posed to in­fec­tion, in­jury or dry­ing out, and needs to be closed sur­gi­cally as soon as pos­si­ble. The most com­mon closed form of the con­di­tion is spina bi­fida oc­culta, where a layer of skin cov­ers the open­ing in the ver­te­brae. There are many health is­sues that af­fect a per­son with spina bi­fida, depend­ing on the sever­ity of the syn­drome. Many chil­dren with spina bi­fida have some de­gree of paral­y­sis of the limbs be­low the level of the spinal mal­for­ma­tion, and mal­func­tion­ing of the blad­der and rec­tum. Other com­mon is­sues in­clude hy­dro­cephalus (ex­cess brain fluid), limb and foot ab­nor­mal­i­ties, de­vel­op­men­tal de­lay and cog­ni­tive dis­abil­ity. Re­search has shown that some women who con­ceive ba­bies with spina bi­fida have lower lev­els of folic acid in their bod­ies. This is why sup­ple­men­ta­tion of this im­por­tant vi­ta­min dur­ing preg­nancy is en­cour­aged.

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