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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Spina Bifida: Prevention & Expectations
      Category : Health Centers > Brain and Nervous System

Spina Bifida

Alternate Names : Spinal Rachischisis, Spinal Dysraphism

Spina Bifida | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What can be done to prevent the condition?

Many cases of spina bifida can be prevented if women get enough daily folic acid before becoming pregnant and during at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The folic acid may come from foods fortified with folic acid or from folic acid supplements.

Because many pregnancies are unplanned, all women who may get pregnant are advised to get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. Prevention is often most effective before a woman knows she is pregnant. Those who already have an affected child may benefit from taking more folic acid and should speak with the healthcare provider. However, at least 30% of neural tube defects are unrelated to the mother's folic acid level.

Women taking medicines to prevent seizures or drugs with vitamin A should discuss pregnancy with the healthcare provider. Vitamin A supplements should be avoided by pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant.

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

Long-term effects depend on the severity and location of the defect. There may be no long-term effects at all, or death may occur. Severe nervous system damage is possible, and can cause the following symptoms:

  • loss of sensation
  • mental retardation
  • paralysis
  • permanent loss of bowel and bladder control
  • seizures
  • weakness
  • Infection of the nervous system may also occur and can lead to death. The emotional impact on the family can be devastating if a child is severely affected.

    What are the risks to others?

    Spina bifida is not contagious and poses no risk to others.

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    Spina Bifida: Diagnosis & Tests


    Spina Bifida: Treatment & Monitoring

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 06/11/01

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