The spina bifida is an incurable disease that develops in the womb because of a neural tube defect. If you want to know more about this disease, below you will find all the information related to the subject. Know exactly what spina bifida consists of , its types, symptoms, possible causes, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
What is spina bifida?
This is a malformation of the brain, spinal column or spinal cord that occurs when the spinal column of the fetus fails to close completely in the first month of gestation. Spina bifida is a congenital disease, which is classified as a neural tube defect.
This can occur when, during pregnancy, the neural tube fails to close completely on day 28 after conception. Irremediably, the spinal column or spinal cord is affected, suffering from malformations and other complications.
As we mentioned at the beginning, it is a defect that has no cure . However, constant medical supervision is necessary, especially if the case is severe or high risk. Being a disease without a cure, supervision must be carried out for life.
Types of spina bifida
Spina bifida can be classified into different types, which can be classified according to its position, severity and the risks it presents.
- Spina bifida occult (it is the least serious).
- Menigocele (intermediate severity).
- Myelomeningocele (the most serious).
The other type of spina bifida is closed neural tube defects, which in some cases can present with various symptoms and more serious complications. It should be noted that the four forms of spina bifida have different symptoms. We will explain each type in more detail below.
Hidden spina bifida
As we noted earlier, this is the mildest form of spina bifida . As its name indicates, it is characterized by being hidden, which is why many of the people who have this defect do not even know it.
Although occult spina bifida is difficult to detect with the naked eye, there are some features that can give clues to its presence. These can generally be from brands, to other types of aesthetic indicators. However, in many cases there are no external symptoms that indicate the presence of this pathology.
This is because normally this type of spina bifida does not present symptoms and is the most common. It is usually detected by an X-ray done for other purposes, and it is mostly diagnosed in adulthood.
Spina bifida Meningocele
Those who suffer from this type of spina bifida notice it considerably. This is because the presence of Spina bifida meningocele is capable of manifesting itself through a lump in the back, which is characterized by being composed of only liquid, in addition to not having any type of nerve inside.
Myelomeningocele spina bifida
Spina bifida myelomeningocele is the most serious state of this pathology. In these cases, not only a bulge with fluid inside can be seen on the outside of the back. In addition, this bulge is connected with the spinal cord and the nervous system , considerably damaging the affected person.
The above results in different serious health conditions, such as:
- Problems related to the functioning of the intestines.
- Problems related to the functioning of the bladder.
- Lack of sensation in the area where the lump is located.
In the case of newborns, the clinical picture can be even worse. In fact, newborns are exposed to suffer a fairly serious disease known as ‘hydrocephalus’ , which causes the bones of the skull to grow disproportionately, This is due to the accumulation of fluid in the areas adjacent to the head.
Closed neural tube defects
Defects the neural tube closed prematurely often occur during pregnancy. In many cases they work even when women do not know they are pregnant. This occurs because the neural tube can close approximately 30 days after the period in which the new life has been conceived.
There are different factors that can cause neural tube problems. However, these problems are usually mainly associated with the following causes:
- Factors related to different types of genetic problems.
- Lack of nutrients in the diet that provide the necessary vitamins for a correct development of the pregnancy.
- Consumption of drugs and alcoholic beverages.
- Adverse effects of medications that are being taken.
- Being exposed to substances that are harmful to health, or contracting some type of infection.
Importantly, folic acid deficiency during pregnancy can increase the chance of neural tube defects. Therefore, it is one of the most important vitamins to ingest during the pregnancy period. It is recommended to consume it regularly during the first months of pregnancy.
Spina bifida symptoms and diagnosis
There are various ‘signs’ or symptoms that can alert you to the presence of spina bifida in its different types. Among some of these most common symptoms we can highlight the following:
- Both marks, as well as indentations or the presence of some external element that is strange on the back of newborns.
- Paralysis in different parts of the body. However, it is more frequent at the level of the legs.
- Bone level problems.
- Heart problems.
- In severe cases, hydrocephalus usually occurs
Causes of spina bifida
At present, the specific causes of spina bifida remain a total mystery. However, in theory, spina bifida originates when the neural tube fails to close properly , resulting in various health complications. Among them are mainly malformations.
Likewise, there are some risk factors that can increase the chances of suffering from this pathology. They are as follows.
Problems related to genetics
It happens when there are complications or difficulties at the genetic level, produced by predispositions of this type.
Lack of vitamin B9 in pregnancy (folic acid)
As we have already explained, during pregnancy it is essential to ingest the different prenatal vitamins. Folic acid plays a vital role for the proper development of pregnancy. That is why it must be ingested frequently during the first months of pregnancy.
A bad diet
It is very important to eat well, before, during and after the pregnancy period . A balanced diet can ensure that the baby is on the way all the nutrients it needs to develop in a healthy and uncomplicated way.
Mothers with premature ages
It is believed that the risk factor for spina bifida may increase in cases where the mothers are very young. In addition, having miscarriages can also increase the risk factor. Especially if we add to these risks the fact that it is a first birth.
How to diagnose spina bifida?
Currently, there are different methods to detect the presence of spina bifida in the early stages. Next, we will tell you about some of them.
Sonography during pregnancy
Also known as ‘prenatal ultrasound’, it consists of observing and analyzing the functioning of the baby’s organs through an ultrasound. In this way, different types of DTNA can be detected , such as the presence of spina bifida, or, failing that, anencephaly. In this way, early treatment can be carried out.
Through a blood test
Another common practice to diagnose spina bifida is that pregnant women have blood tests. It is recommended that these tests be carried out during the week of pregnancy number 18 approximately.
Although this blood test cannot detect with total precision if the baby on the way has spina bifida, it can be a good reference to know if the risks of suffering from this pathology are high. If these risks are high, other studies can be carried out to detect the specific disease.
Finally, this process consists of analyzing the amniotic fluid with which the baby is surrounded. This procedure uses an extremely thin needle , which is inserted through the pregnant woman’s abdomen.
If AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) is present in amniotic fluid samples, some alarms may go off. AFP is usually present in the amniotic fluid when there are problems related to the neural tubes. However, it is necessary to carry out other types of studies to know the specific problem.
In which cases is spina bifida worse?
Spina bifida can be a congenital disease, which may or may not manifest itself during birth depending on its level of severity . In many cases, it manifests in newborns, which I get various conditions. In other cases, it can appear in adulthood.
Spina bifida in adults
In general, adults often suffer from spina bifida occulta, or in some cases meningocele. That is why it is often difficult to realize the presence of the disease until a medical check-up that involves an X-ray is performed.
As we discussed a little above, this type of spina bifida is the mildest that exists. In some cases, as a side effect of this pathology, problems related to sleep disorders can be observed, such as sleep apnea.
Spina bifida in babies
In the case of babies, the clinical picture of spina bifida can be quite drastic. Although, as in the case of adults, everything will depend on the type of this pathology that occurs. However, in the most serious cases characterized by the appearance of spina bifida Myelomeningocele, serious diseases can appear.
Some include bladder or bowel problems . This, without leaving aside the high possibility of suffering the terrible consequences presented by a picture of hydrocephalus.
In many cases, the treatment of cases with spina bifida is carried out through surgery. Likewise, prostheses, medications and other types of methods indicated by a health professional can also be used.
It should be borne in mind that this pathology cannot be cured at present. However, timely treatment can be very useful to cope in a much better way. In case of suffering from this pathology at any of its levels, it is advisable to go to a health professional and start the appropriate treatment .
It has been known that there is an experimental method through which surgery can be performed during pregnancy . This is believed to help prevent the development of this disease during birth. Likewise, there are other types of advice in order to avoid its appearance, such as:
- Consume folic acid during pregnancy.
- Eat a balanced diet where vitamins, minerals and nutrients necessary for the proper development of the baby are ingested.
- Avoid the consumption of alcohol and drugs in general. Especially during the pregnancy period.
- In case of ingesting any medication, see a health professional to find out if it can affect the pregnancy.
- Perform the necessary checkups and exams, in order to rule out their presence.
Although this disease can occur in some cases due to genetic problems, there are several risk factors that increase the probability of its appearance . By following the tips mentioned above and leading a healthy life, the risks of a baby on the way being born with this disease can be greatly reduced.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.