URL of this page: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/spinabifida.html

Spina Bifida

Also called: Cleft spine, Open spine 

Summary

Spina bifida is a neural tube defect - a type of birth defect of the brain, spine, or spinal cord. It happens if the spinal column of the fetus doesn't close completely during the first month of pregnancy. This can damage the nerves and spinal cord. Screening tests during pregnancy can check for spina bifida. Sometimes it is discovered only after the baby is born.

The symptoms of spina bifida vary from person to person. Most people with spina bifida are of normal intelligence. Some people need assistive devices such as braces, crutches, or wheelchairs. They may have learning difficulties, urinary and bowel problems, or hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain.

The exact cause of spina bifida is unknown. It seems to run in families. Taking folic acid can reduce the risk of having a baby with spina bifida. It's in most multivitamins. Women who could become pregnant should take it daily.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Start Here

Diagnosis/Symptoms

Prevention/Screening

Treatments and Therapies

Living With

Related Issues

Specific Conditions

Genetics

Health Check Tools

Videos

Statistics and Research

Clinical Trials

Children

Teenagers

Men

Women

Patient Handouts