What is Spina Bifida?
• Spina bifida is a birth
defect. It occurs when
the bones of the spine
(vertebrae) do not form
properly around part of
the baby’s spinal cord. It
can affect how the skin
on the back looks. And in
severe cases, it can make
walking or daily activities
hard to do without help.
How bad can it be?
• The symptoms of Spina bifida range from mild to
• The mild form is the more common form. It
usually does not cause problems or need
treatment. You can't see the defect. Most people
don't even know they have it until they get a back
X-ray for another reason.
Two Most Severe Forms:
• Meningocele: Fluid leaks out
of the spine and pushes
against the skin. You may see
a bulge in the skin. In many
cases, there are no other
• Myelomeningocele: Most rare and
severe form of spina bifida, but is the
form most people mean when they say
“spina bifida”. Part of the spinal nerves
push out of the spinal canal, and you
may see a bulge in the skin. Nerves are
often damaged, which may cause
problems with walking, bladder or
bowel control, and coordination.
What causes Spina Bifida?
• The exact cause of this birth defect is not known.
Experts think that genes and the environment are
part of the cause. For example, women who have
had one child with spina bifida are more likely to
have another child with the disease. Women who are
obese or who have diabetes are also more likely to
have a child with spina bifida.
• Depends on severity of the defect.
• Child could have a dimple, birthmark, or hairy patch on
his or her back
• Swelling on the spine
• Little to no feeling in the legs, feet, or arms
• Fluid buildup on the brain
• Intellectual disability
• Sight problems
• Curve in the spine
• Many develop an allergy to latex
How is Spina Bifida diagnosed?
• A pregnant woman can have a blood test and a
fetal ultrasound to check for spina bifida or other
problems with the fetus
• A woman can choose to have an amniocentesis to
help confirm if spina bifida exists, but the test
comes with risks such as a chance of miscarriage
• After birth, a doctor can usually tell if a baby has
spina bifida by looking at its back. An Xray, MRI, or a CT scan can be done to evaluate the
severity of the defect
• Mild defects usually do not
• Children with severe defects
may require corrective
• If a child has problems from
nerve damage, he or she may
brace, wheelchair, physical
therapy, or other aids
How can you prevent Spina Bifida?
Before and during pregnancy:
• Get plenty of folic acid each day. Eat foods rich in folic acid, such as
fortified breakfast cereals and breads, spinach, and oranges. Your
doctor may recommend that you also take a daily vitamin with folic
acid or a folic acid supplement.
• If you take medicine for seizures or acne, talk with your doctor
before you get pregnant. Some of these medicines can cause birth
• Don't drink alcohol while you are pregnant. Any amount of alcohol
may affect your baby’s health.
• Don't let your body get too hot in the first weeks of pregnancy. For
example, don't use a sauna or take a very hot bath. And treat high
fevers right away. The heat could raise your baby’s risk for spina
• Extended time on
assignments and assessments
• Scribe for written
• Special desk/chair
• Preferential seating
• Orthopedic pencils/crayons
• Wheelchair/walker accessible