Medical Facts

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Spina Bifida causes neurological damage that can lead to many other health complications. There are three types of Spina Bifida:

Myelomeningocele

The most common form of Spina Bifida occurs when skin, muscle and bone fail to close properly over the opening in the spinal column. Part of the spinal cord and its covering come through the opening. It causes significant spinal cord dysfunction, and neurological function is usually impaired or absent below the opening in the back.

Meningocele

A rare form of Spina Bifida in which the baby’s back is covered by normal skin, but part of the spinal cord comes through an opening in the spinal column. It rarely causes nerve damage but can cause problems later in life if the spinal cord “tethers,” or becomes caught in scar tissue near the defect. In most cases surgery helps the child have normal development, although problems can still develop with leg weakness and bowel and bladder control.

Occulta

In this form of Spina Bifida, some of the bones in the spine fail to close properly. There is usually no opening in the back, so it is often not obvious at birth. It causes little impairment and frequently goes undiagnosed, often until adulthood. Adults with back pain sometimes discover they have this after getting an X-ray. Some people also experience leg numbness and loss of bladder control.

For more information on this question and other related topics, SBA offers a series of fact sheets and publications. Additional questions or requests for information should be sent to the SBA National Resource Center.  Visit the SBA Resources site HERE for more information.

Every person with Spina Bifida is uniquely different in their abilities and how this birth defect affects their body.  Please visit our other About Spina Bifida pages for more information.  To talk to someone, please call 972-238-8755.