About Spina Bifida
Spina Bifida is a congenital anomaly which occurs in children who have underdeveloped spine and spinal cord. This condition belongs to a category of neural tube defects. A neural tube is a structure that forms in the first trimester of pregnancy and ultimately as the fetus develops forms into brain, spinal cord, and tissues that enclose these vital structures.(1)
Under normal circumstances, the neural tube closes by the first month of conceiving but in some cases the tube does not close properly leading to underdevelopment of spine and spinal cord causing Spina Bifida.
The severity of Spina Bifida ranges from mild to severe depending on the size, location, and type of the defect. The exact cause of Spina Bifida is not known but researchers believe that certain genetic and environmental factors may be at play in the development of Spina Bifida.
However, researchers have come up with certain risk factors which increase the likelihood for a female delivering a baby with Spina Bifida. These risk factors include folate deficiency, family history of Spina Bifida or other neural tube defects, females with diabetes, and females who are obese are more likely to deliver children with Spina Bifida.
There are many neural tube defects which affect the life span of the affected child but whether Spina Bifida is one such condition is something that has been elaborated below.
Is Spina Bifida Fatal?
Spina Bifida does not affect the life span of a child. This can be credited to the advances that medical technology has made in the last three decades or so. If ever there is a fatality it is due to lack of adequate treatment or complications that occur due to inadequate treatment of Spina Bifida.
In majority of the cases, children with Spina Bifida lead a normal active life well into the fifth and sixth decade of life. The intelligence of children with Spina Bifida is not affected in any way. Movement disorder is something that is prevalent in children with Spina Bifida. In some cases, severe Spina Bifida may paralyze the lower limbs of the child and such children will require wheelchair to get around. In other cases, children may have mild to moderate walking difficulty and may or may not require assistive devices to ambulate.
About 75% of children with Spina Bifida are actively involved in competitive sports as well. With continuous advancement of medical science, the prognosis of Spina Bifida continues to get better.
In some cases, children may have bowel and bladder incontinence problems but even this can be addressed with appropriate programs so that children can lead normal productive lives despite Spina Bifida.
Thus it can be said that Spina Bifida is not a fatal disease and with advancement of medical science the prognosis continues to improve of Spina Bifida.