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Birth Defects: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention of Spina Bifida

Spina bifida, also means cleft spine, is a birth defect in which vertebrae do not develop well around a fetus' spinal cord.

This type of neural tube defect can be so mild as to be without symptoms or protruding from an opening in the spine, leading to complications such as paralysis and incontinence. There may be treatment involving surgery to close up the opening in the spine as well as managing complications.

If there's a closed neural tube defect, it is often recognized as an abnormal tuft of hair, dimple, or birthmark at the site of the spinal malformation. In some cases, it's a fluid-filled sac protruding from the spinal canal which is visible. 

The symptoms and complications these conditions cause include:

Skin problems: Sores, burns, calluses, and blisters may develop on parts of the skin where there is persistent pressure, such as on the feet, hips, and ankles.

Learning issues: They may have difficulty paying attention and problems with language, maths, and reading.

When a Black baby is born, the doctor's race mattersPhoto Credit: Tampa Bay Times

Bladder and bowel dysfunction: Having incontinence, urinary tract infections, and irregular bowel movements may be present due to problems with nerve endings.

Paralysis: Spina bifida can result in difficulty in movement depending on the severity and location of the spine.

Neurological complications: Children with this condition may have a neural problem that blocks cerebrospinal fluid, causing an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.


The causes of Spina bifida are;

Folic acid deficiency: Insufficient intake of folic acid during pregnancy can cause it.

Antiepileptic medications: If used during pregnancy, these medications may increase the risk for spina bifida.

Other risk factors or causes in pregnancy include obesity, diabetes, and exposure to high heat.


To prevent these congenital birth defects, foods such as beans, spinach, beef can be eaten and also foods fortified with folic acid. Women who are pregnant are encouraged to take supplements including folic acid even before conceiving.

Content created and supplied by: DrGeraldine (via Opera News )


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