» Spina Bifida
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.
Q. What is Hydrocephalus?
A. Hydrocephalus is the inability of the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSP) that bathes the brain to escape from the skull. We all produce this fluid and in normal circumstances it leaves the brain via a channel into the spinal cord where it is absorbed into the blood stream. In Hydrocephalus this channel becomes blocked for various reasons
Q. What Causes It?
A. There are several causes of Hydrocephalus. Spina Bifida is one where the development of the neural tube defect causes a blockage and does not allow the fluid to escape. Other causes include premature birth, meningitis, head injury, benign cysts, however sometimes it is just not possible to identify a cause.
Q. Is it Hereditary?
A. As you can see from the above Hydrocephalus usually develops for various reasons, therefore is not hereditary. However, some causes of Hydrocephalus can be hereditary, but these are very rare
Q. What is the Treatment?
A. A tube (catheter) and valve system is inserted in order to drain the fluid from the brain and into the abdomen, where it is then absorbed by the blood stream. This is now a routine operation and recovery is very quick