The medical term ‘spina bifida’ or spinal Bifida refers to a congenital defect in the spine. In simpler terms, spinal Bifida is a defect in the neural tube. Based on the severity of this disease, spinal Bifida can be divided into three different types:
The symptoms of spinal Bifida vary depending on each of these three types. Let's take a closer look at its symptoms here:
Myelomeningocele is the most severe form of spinal Bifida. In this type of neural defect, the spinal canal of the baby remains open in the middle or lower back along a few vertebrae. Due to this opening, a sac is formed at the back of the baby at birth, which exposes the baby to several life-threatening infections.
Some of the common symptoms of this type of spinal Bifida are:
Presence of uneven hips
Curved spine or scoliosis
Bladder and bowel problems
Paralyzed leg muscles.
Physical deformities from moderate to severe levels are also very common in this type of spinal Bifida.
Meningocele is a rather rare form of spinal Bifida in which a sack of fluid stays in open at the back of the baby. Here the protective membranes that usually stay around the spinal cord push out through the vertebrae’s opening. Though this sack contains no part of the spinal cord, it may cause minor disabilities.
Some common symptoms of this kind of spinal Bifida are:
o Membranes forming a visible sack on the back at the birth
o Presence of a small opening in the baby's back
The good news is that this sack can be removed through surgery without hampering the normal development of the spinal cord.
Spina bifida occulta is the mildest form of spina bifida, which, in the majority of the cases, often stays hidden as its symptoms are rarely visible. As it doesn’t even cause any form of disability, it generally goes unnoticed. It doesn’t cause any damages to the nerves or the spinal cord.
Some common symptoms of the occult are:
Presence of a gap between the vertebrae
An area on the back formed with extra fat
A cluster or small group of hair on the back
A dimple or birthmark on the back.
In this kind of spinal Bifida, neither any sack of fluid is formed, nor are there any visible opening in the back. Sometimes, people who have spinal Bifida are not aware of it due to its minimal symptoms.
Spinal Bifida usually affects a child before birth, when the brain or the cord or the protective covering over them fails to develop completely. Knowing about the symptoms can be one of the best ways to identify and diagnose this disease and opt for proper treatment solutions.