What is Spina Bifida?

  • Spina bifida is a condition where the spine does not develop properly, leaving a gap in the spine.
  • In many cases surgery can be carried out to close the opening in the spine. However, damage to the nervous system will usually already have taken place.
  • The damage to the spinal cord can lead to problems such as:
  • Many babies will have or will develop hydrocephalus (excess fluid on the brain), which can further damage the brain. Most people with spina bifida will have a normal intelligence, but learning difficulties are common, especially with hydrocephalus.

How to Manage Spina Bifida

  • A number of different treatments can be used to treat symptoms or conditions associated with spina bifida.
  • These include:
    • surgery soon after birth to close the opening in the spine and treat hydrocephalus
    •  therapies to help make day-to-day life easier and improve independence, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy
    • assistive devices and mobility aids, such as a manual or electric wheelchair, or walking aids
    • treatments for bowel and urinary problems, such as medication, draining urine from the bladder with a tube (catheter), anal irrigation systems and surgery
  • With appropriate treatment and support, it's likely that children with spina bifida will survive well into adulthood.

All information from NHS Choices

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