Spina bifida is a congenital (present at birth) condition that affects the development of the spine and spinal cord. It occurs when the neural tube, which forms the baby’s brain and spinal cord during early development, fails to close properly. This results in an opening in the spine that can cause damage to the spinal cord and nerves.
There are three main types of spina bifida:
- Occulta: the mildest form, where the spinal cord and nerves are usually not affected, and the opening in the spine is very small.
- Meningocele: a more severe form, where the protective covering around the spinal cord protrudes through the opening in the spine to form a sac filled with cerebrospinal fluid.
- Myelomeningocele: the most severe form, where a sac filled with cerebrospinal fluid and the spinal cord and nerves protrude through the opening in the spine.
Spina bifida can cause a range of symptoms, including mobility issues, bladder and bowel problems, and cognitive and learning difficulties. Treatment options depend on the type and severity of the condition and may include surgery, medication, and therapy.