Do you know what spina bifida is?

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We tell you a little about this malformation, a disease that arises during pregnancy

Do you know what spina bifida is?

Spina bifida occurs during pregnancy when your baby's spine and spinal cord do not form correctly. When the formation is not adequate, the nerves branch out and the term refers to a 'split' or 'open' column. The neural tube, which later becomes the baby's brain and spinal cord, is created in the early stages of pregnancy and continues open until approximately 28 days after conception. In this way, spina bifida arises from that first development of the neural tube.

Leer en español: ¿Sabes qué es la espina bífida?

Physically, it can be seen as an opening in the back, although in other cases it may not be visible but only open inside. These malformations can be severe or mild, but in the fact of having the opening, surgery is necessary to close.

The severity of this depends on several factors, such as size and location, so you can not know for sure what the consequences will be. The closer the malformation is to the brain, the more serious the consequences can be. In general, it also depends on whether the malformation affects some nerves and ends up compromising them.

Read also: 4 common diseases in pregnancy

Una publicación compartida de Medicina Fetal en Monterrey (@medicina_fetal) el

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are 4 types of spina bifida. The first, the most common and mild, is the hidden spina bifida, whose malformation is covered by a layer of skin and does not cause disability or symptoms, usually. Although there is no opening, it can be noticed by some stain or a small sunken.

"The defects of the closed neural tube make up the second type: this form consists of a group of spinal defects in which a malformation of fats, bones, and membranes is created." This second type also does not have many symptoms, but in some cases, it can have urinary and intestinal complications.

Meningocele is another type of malformation, where the meninges, which are the membranes that cover the medulla and the brain, protrude the opening and this may not be covered by skin so that it can be seen. Symptoms are similar to closed neural tube defects. The injury is not usually risky, because it often does not compromise the spinal cord.

Finally, there is a myelomeningocele, which is the most serious. This type of spina bifida is already compromising the spinal cord, which is exposed after a bulge and opening in the spine. Here it depends a lot on where you are, because the higher you are, the more nerves that control different parts of the body can be compromised. Babies born with this problem usually have bone and muscle problems due to poor development of the nerves of the marrow.

How to treat it?

Because spina bifida can have different degrees of severity, and even each can have different consequences, there are many ways to treat it, depending on what is being affected.

According to Kids Health, doctors will usually treat the organs that are being affected directly, focusing specifically on the nervous system. In the case of occult spina bifida, no treatment may be necessary. As in the other types of this malformation, surgery may be required in which the opening is closed and, in the case that the meninges are involved in the malformation, with surgery they should also be placed in their corresponding place.

In cases of myelomeningocele, the involvement of the spinal cord can also cause hydrocephalus in the baby, which is "an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid inside or around the brain," according to Kids Health. In these cases, where the head is larger or have a swollen fontanelle, it is necessary to perform another surgery to release the accumulation of fluid completely.

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

Translated from "¿Sabes qué es la espina bífida?"

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