What Are the Causes of Spinal Bifida?
Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs in the womb when tissue surrounding the spinal cord fails to close entirely. During gestation, neural tube tissue cells proliferate, which eventually form into the baby's spinal cord and brain. This tissue is also responsible for creating a protective envelope around the cord. In spina bifida, a portion of the cells fail to entirely develop and leave holes in the envelope. This causes major development issues in the spinal cord and vertebrate bone in the back. There are three types of spina bifida, each creating their own set of symptoms.
Spina Bifida Occulta
Spina Bifida Occulta is a condition where abnormally large gaps in the vertebrate form. Although it leaves the spinal cord exposed, this form of the disease rarely affects the actual spinal cord, so children have no neurological problems or symptoms. The only warning sign associated with this type of spina bifida is a small tuft of hair or birth mark located on an infant's spinal region. It usually grows directly above the gapped vertebrate in need of surgical correction. Many times, patients are unaware they have this form of spina bifida until undergoing an x-ray for unrelated reasons.
In this form of spina bifida, a layer of tissue that covers the spinal cord, called the meninges, overgrows and starts protruding outside of the vertebrate. This form of the birth defect is very rare, and it does not affect the spinal cord as well. Surgery is needed to remove the overgrown layer before it becomes a problem, but most instances leave little side effects and no neurological complications.
This is the most severe case of spina bifida, and it's the condition known by most people when they think of spina bifida. In this form, the baby's spinal cord remains exposed within several vertebrate along the middle area of the back. The opening causes a large sack to develop that protrudes out from the exposed area. This form of the disease usually leaves the infant paralyzed and lower function such as bowel movement and urination are uncontrolled.
Scientists aren't certain why some cells in the neural tubes don't develop, but they agree that the causes are probably a combination of genetics and the environment. Recent studies have shown deficiencies in folic acid increases the risk of spina bifida in children.
Pregnant women are encouraged to take folic acid supplements to combat the chances of birth defects in unborn children. Doctors suggest a minimum of one milligram of folic acid a day for pregnant women, which is the normal amount indicated in prenatal vitamins. Additionally, a diet rich in folate is recommended, which is contained in foods like dried beans, citrus fruits, whole-grains and dark green vegetables.