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Spina Bifida FAQs

Q. What Causes Spina Bifida?

A. Spina Bifida is a fault in the development of the neural tube that occurs very early in pregnancy (usually before the woman even knows she is pregnant). No single cause has been identified, although it is known that taking folic acid supplements before conception helps reduce the risk. Research is also ongoing into possible genetic and environmental causes.

Q. Is it hereditary?

A. If there is someone in the family with Spina Bifida, or who has had a baby with Spina Bifida, the risk of close family members also having a baby affected is slightly increased. Genetic counselling is available that can help identify what this risk might be.

Q. How Can I Know How My Baby Will be Affected?

A. This is very difficult to identify before birth, but in general the lower the lesion on the spine is the milder the effect. However Spina Bifida ranges from very mild disability, to very severe. Your Consultant will discuss with you what the scans show.

Q. What Will Happen After My Baby is Born?

A. If needed, an operation will be carried out to close any open lesion on the spine. It is important to know that this is done to prevent infection and is not a cure. Close monitoring will be carried out by a team of medical people, including physiotherapist, urologist, and perhaps an orthopaedic surgeon. If Hydrocephalus is present an operation may be necessary.

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