General Enquiries 03455 211 811
Support Helpline 03455 211 300
Fundraising 03455 211 600

What is Spina Bifida?

Spina Bifida is a fault in the spinal column in which one or more veterbrae (the bones which form the backbone) fail to form properly, leaving a gap or split, causing damage to the nervous system.

To help understand Spina Bifida in detail it is necessary to know the composition of the nervous system.

The Central Nervous System

The central nervous system and spine develop between the 14th and 23rd day after conception. It consists of the brain and the spinal cord. All activities are controlled by the brain which receives information from touching, seeing, feeling, tasting and hearing - responding to this information by initiating the appropriate movements of different parts of the body. Messages from the brain are carried to different parts of the body by the spinal cord which runs down the centre of the spinal column. This communication system for the body is very important and needs protection.

The Spine

The spine is made up of 33 bones or vertebrae. The vertebrae have two main functions. One is to provide anchorage for muscles so that we can move as messages from the brain are sent to those muscles. The other is to provide protection to the spinal cord.

The Neural Tube

The central nervous system and spine develops between the 14th and 23rd day after conception. Spina bifida occurs when the neural tube fails to close correctly. The vertebrae also fail to close in complete rings around the affected portion of the spinal cord. This leaves a gap at the back, involving one or more vertebrae. The fault may occur in one or more of the vertebrae but it is most common around waist-level.

Spina Bifida is one of a range of conditions all included under the umbrella term of "Neural Tube Defects".

The information in this section is available in a leaflet, “What is Spina Bifida”. This may be downloaded in PDF format from our library.

Support us

Because of you we provide a lifetime commitment of support. Please continue to support us or donate today. Thank you.

Make a donation

Our latest news

Global's Make Some Noise campaign donates £80,000 to SBH Scotland
Des, Amy and Steven from Capital Scotland made a surprise visit to deliver the news!

New stats reveal 91% of UK women have insufficient folate levels to support a reduction in neural tube defects
SBH Scotland ask UK Government to reduce this number by making the folic acid fortification of flour a reality

Scottish Wit launched in time for World Book Day
Book of humour helps SBH Scotland support families across Scotland

More news
Follow @SBHScotland on Twitter

SBH Scotland on Facebook

Our newsletter

We’d like to keep you up-to-date with information on our charity.

Sign up here for our newsletters.

* indicates required
Loading