The central nervous system includes the brain, nerves and spinal cord. The spinal cord consists of nerve cells and nerve bundles that connect every part of the body to the brain.
During the first month after conception, the embryo develops a primitive tissue structure known as the neural tube. Gradually, this structure develops into bones, nerves and tissue which eventually form the nervous system and spine. When the unborn baby has spina bifida something goes wrong with the neural tube and spinal column development - it does not close fully. The spinal column is a ridge of bone that protects and surrounds the nerves.
The word Spina Bifida comes from the Latin "spina" meaning spine, and "bifida" meaning split.
There are three main types of spina bifida:
Spina bifida occulta
Spina bifida meningocele
This text refers mainly to myelomeningocele.
Myelomeningocele - the most serious type and affects approximated 1 in every 1,000 babies born. Along several vertebrae the spinal column remains exposed. A sac forms on the baby's back as the membranes and spinal cord push out. The sac may be covered with meninges (membranes). The nervous system is more susceptible to infections, some of which can be life-threatening. Although surgery can correct the defect, it cannot reverse the extensive damage that has already occurred. The baby can have partly or totally paralyzed legs, urinary and/or bowel incontinence, and can lose sensation of the skin.
The majority of patients have excessive CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) - a condition known…