Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Spina Bifida Overview

What is spina bifida?
An infant with spina bifida has a birth defect that results in a deformed spinal cord or spinal column. The cause for spina bifida is unknown. For some reason, the spinal column does not form correctly during development in the womb. About 1 out of 3,500 infants are born with spina bifida in the US each year. Many develop hydrocephalus, or increased fluid pressure inside the brain. Spina bifida occulta is the mildest and most common form of spina bifida.

What are the symptoms of spina bifida?
The symptoms and signs of spina bifida vary, depending on how severely the spine is deformed. Symptoms of spina bifida may include scoliosis, urinary incontinence, clubfoot, hip dislocation, leg weakness (bilateral), difficulty walking, and fatigue.

How does the doctor treat spina bifida?
Treatment for spina bifida may include surgery and a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt.

Continue to Spina Bifida Incidence

Last Updated: Jun 14, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Spina Bifida References
  1. Barf HA, Verhoef M, Jennekens-Schinkel A, Post MW, Gooskens RH, Prevo AJ. Cognitive status of young adults with spina bifida. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2003 Dec;45(12):813-20. [14667073]
  2. Mitchell LE, Adzick NS, Melchionne J, Pasquariello PS, Sutton LN, Whitehead AS. Spina bifida. Lancet. 2004 Nov 20-26;364(9448):1885-95. [15555669]
  3. Rendeli C, Ausili E, Tabacco F, Caliandro P, Aprile I, Tonali P, Salvaggio E, Padua L. Assessment of health status in children with spina bifida. Spinal Cord. 2005 Apr;43(4):230-5. [15655570]
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