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What is Spina Bifida Spina bifida is a neural tube defect NTD which occurs within the first four weeks of pregnancy The NTD occurs when the vertebrae andor spinal cord of the fetus fail to develop properly and results in varying degrees of damage to the spinal cord and nervous system The damage is permanent SB is usually accompanied by hydrocephalus Treatment is urgent to minimize further neurological damage in the opening in the spine The three most common types of SB areP Myelomeningocele the severest form in which the spinal cord and its protective covering the meninges protrude from the opening in the spineP Meningocele the spinal cord develops normally but the meninges protrudes from the opening created by damaged or missing vertebrae and may be exposedP Occulta This form of SB where one or more vertebrae are malformed is covered by a layer of skin Occulta is the mildest formP What causes Spina Bifida There is no single known cause of SB Research continues into the effects of factors such as heredity nutrition environment and pollution and physical damage to the embryo How Many Canadians Have Spina Bifida Thousands Approximately one in every 750 babies born in Canada are born with SB Eighty percent of those individuals will also have hydrocephalus The number of individuals with spina bifida occulta can only be estimated What are the Effects of Spina Bifida Infants born with SB sometimes have an open lesion on their spine where the significant damage to the nerves and spinal cord has occured Although the spinal opening is surgically repaired shortly after birth the nerve damage is permanent This results in varying degrees of paralysis of the lower limbs depending largely on the location and severity of the lesion Even with no lesion there may be improperly formed or missing vertebrae and accompanying nerve damage In addition to the
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