Spina bifida is a birth defect that affects the development of the spine and the spinal cord. It occurs when the neural tube (the embryonic structure that eventually develops into the spine and nervous system) fails to close properly during the first few weeks of fetal development.
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Spina bifida: How does it form?
Spina bifida is a congenital malformation of the spine and spinal cord. During pregnancy, the neural tube of a fetus normally develops into the brain, spinal cord, and surrounding tissues, but in children with spina bifida, part of the neural tube does not close properly. This abnormal closure usually occurs in the first few weeks of pregnancy, causing abnormalities in the spinal cord and bones of the spine.
Doctors have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of spina bifida. They believe it is due to a combination of nutritional, environmental, and even genetic risk factors, including a family history of neural tube defects and folate (vitamin B-9) deficiency.
Types of Spina Bifida
Spina bifida occurs in a variety of forms, including spina bifida occulta, spina bifida aperta, myelomeningocele, or meningocele (very rare).
- Spina bifida occulta is one of the mildest and most common forms, causing small fractures or gaps in one or more bones of the spine. People with this form of the disease may not be aware of it unless it is discovered on an imaging test done for other reasons.
- Myelomeningocele, also called open spina bifida, is the most severe form of the disease, in which the spinal canal is open at several vertebrae in the lower or middle back, causing a sac of tissue and nerves to form. This can make the child more susceptible to life-threatening infections and cause paralysis and bladder and bowel dysfunction.
- Spina bifida aperta is characterized by a defect in the formation of the vertebral arch, distal dorsal, and lumbar vertebrae, and the absence of meninges, which exposes the neural plate directly to the amniotic fluid. This fixed malformation can also have serious health consequences.
Symptoms of the disease
Spina bifida aperta can cause a variety of symptoms, the severity of which depends on the type of spina bifida and the individual. In general, if the spinal nerves are not affected, there are no obvious symptoms. However, there may be visible signs on the newborn's skin above the spinal abnormality, such as an abnormal hair feather, a small dimple, or a birthmark. Sometimes these markings can be an indicator of an underlying spinal cord abnormality that can be seen on an MRI or ultrasound of the newborn's spine.
Myelomeningocele is usually diagnosed shortly before or after birth when medical treatment is available. These babies need to be followed by a team of specialized doctors throughout their lives, and families need to be made aware of the many complications that need to be monitored.
Babies with spina bifida occulta show no signs or complications. Therefore, only routine visits are usually necessary.
Spina Bifida Treatment in Turkey: Best prices & Clinics
Treatment for spina bifida depends on the severity of the defect, its location, and the complications associated with each case. Treatment options include:
If spina bifida is diagnosed during pregnancy, surgery may be recommended. The surgery closes the opening in the spine to protect the spinal cord. This can improve nerve function and reduce the risk of complications.
People with spina bifida may have symptoms such as mobility problems, incontinence, and bladder and bowel problems. Treatment may be recommended to help relieve these symptoms and improve quality of life.
Physical therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve mobility. Stimulation exercises may also help improve bladder and bowel function.
Depending on the symptoms of the person with spina bifida, other treatments may be recommended, such as braces to help maintain proper posture and improve function, medications to help manage pain, or speech or language therapy to help control certain functions.
It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to discuss appropriate treatment options for each individual.
If you are looking for spina bifida treatment in Istanbul, Turkey, Turquie Santé can help you find the best clinics offering quality care at affordable prices.
Spina Bifida Risk Factors
Risk factors for spina bifida have been identified by doctors and researchers, although the exact causes of the condition have not been clearly defined. Spina bifida is more common in Caucasians and people of Spanish descent and women than in men. Risk factors include a deficiency of folate, the natural form of vitamin B-9, which is necessary for a baby's development, and a family history of congenital neural tube defects, which slightly increases the chances of having another child with the same birth defect. Some medications, such as valproic acid (Depakene),can also cause neural tube defects if taken during pregnancy.
Women with diabetes or obesity before pregnancy also have an increased risk of spina bifida in their babies. Finally, high body temperature during the first few weeks of pregnancy, due to fever or use of saunas or hot tubs, is associated with an increased risk of spina bifida.
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