What is Spina Bifida?

Spina Bifida is a birth defect in which the bones of the vertebral column do not close properly, exposing the spinal cord, leaving it unprotected.

The spinal column is made of bones, called “vertebrae.” They support the body and protect a large group of nerves, called the “spinal cord.” The spinal cord carries nerve signals from the body to the brain.

spinabifida picture

In a baby with spina bifida, the neural tube and spinal column does not close fully, leaving the spinal cord and nerves exposed. In more severe cases, the spinal cord and nerves may push through this opening in the back. This defect happens just a few weeks after conception, typically before a woman even knows that she is pregnant.

The word Spina Bifida comes from the Latin “spina” meaning spine, and “bifida” meaning split. A spinal defect can occur anywhere along the length of the spinal column, but 80% are located in the lumbar and sacral regions of the spine.

There are three main types of spina bifida:

  • Spina bifida occulta
  • Spina bifida meningocele
  • Spina bifida myelomeningocele

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