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Spina Bifida; Cleft Spine

Spina bifida refers to any birth defect involving incomplete closure of the spine. Myelomeningocele is a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth and may affect 1 in every 800 infants. The condition is a type of spina bifida. The children of an individual born with this have an increased risk of of birth defect.

Symptoms of this include: loss of bladder or bowel control, partial or complete lack of sensation, partial or complete paralysis of the legs, weakness of hips, legs, or feet in newborns, abnormal feet or legs, build up of fluids inside the skull, hair at the back part of the pelvis, and dimpling of the sacral area.

Surgery is recommended at an early age to repair this defect.Most children will require lifelong treatment for problems that result from damage to the spinal cord and spinal nerves. This includes: gentle downward pressure over the bladder may help drain the bladder. Bowel training programs and a high fiber diet may improve bowel function. Orthopedic or physical therapy may be needed to treat musculoskeletal symptoms. Braces may be needed for muscle and joint problems. Neurological losses are treated according to the type and severity of function loss.

Unfortunately these individuals may encounter new problems with the spinal cord later in life, usually around the stage of puberty. This is caused by the rapid growth which may cause more loss of function.

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