What is Meningocele?
Spina bifida (Latin: "split spine") is a birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. There are three main types: spina bifida occulta, meningocele, and myelomeningocele. Signs may include a hairy patch, dimple, dark spot, or swelling on the back at the site of the gap in the spine. Meningocele typically causes mild problems with a sack of fluid present at the gap in the spine. Myelomeningocele also known as open spina bifida is the most severe form. Associated problems include poor ability to walk, problems with bladder or bowel control, hydrocephalus, a tethered spinal cord, and latex allergy. Learning problems are uncommon.
Spina bifida is believed to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. After having one child with the condition or if a parent has the condition there is a 4% chance the next child will also be affected. Diagnosis may occur either before or after a child is born. Before birth if a blood test or amniocentesis finds high alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) there is a high chance of spina bifida. Ultrasounds may also detect the problem. Medical imaging can confirm the diagnosis after birth. It is a type of neural tube defect with other types including anencephaly and encephalocele.
Most cases of spina bifida can be prevented if mothers gets enough folic acid before and during pregnancy. Adding folic acid to flour has been found to be effective. --> A shunt may be needed in those with hydrocephalus and a tethered spinal cord may be surgically fixed. Devices to help with movement such as crutches or wheelchairs may be useful. Urinary catheterization may also be needed.
About 5% of people have spina bifida occulta. and in India about 1.9 per 1000 births. Part of this difference is believed to be due to race with Caucasians at higher risk and partly due to environmental factors.
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