Spina bifida is the most common, permanently disabling birth defect. It affects about one out of every 1,400 to 1,500 newborns in the United States. The Spina Bifida Association conservatively estimates that there are 70,000 people living in the United States with the condition. The prevalence appears to have decreased in recent years due in part to preventative measures followed by expectant mothers prior to and during pregnancy, as well as prenatal testing.

Spina bifida occurs during the third and fourth weeks of pregnancy when a portion of the fetal spinal cord fails to properly close. As a result, the child is born with a part of the spinal cord exposed on the back. Although scientists believe that genetic and environmental factors may act together to cause spina bifida, 95 percent of babies with spina bifida are born to parents with no family history. Women with certain chronic health problems, including diabetes and seizure disorders (treated with certain anticonvulsant medications), have an increased risk (approximately 1/100) of having a baby with spina bifida.

Spina Bifida Overview

  • Types of Spina Bifida

  • Prognosis

  • Tethered Spinal Cord

  • Prevention

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