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Fetal-Surgery Fetal surgery itself is a relatively new procedure with only a few hundred attempts world wide Because of the risk of inducing preterm labor and delivering so early in the pregnancy fetal surgery traditionally was reserved for life- threatening circumstances While spina bifida is not necessarily life- threatening it is the most common debilitating birth defect diagnosed in about one of every 1000 here in the US Babies born with spina bifida typically experience one or more lifelong and an sometimes devastating physical disabilities like weakness or paralysis in their lower limbs loss of feeling urinary and bowel dysfunction and hydrocephalus water on the brain In addition some children also have skeletal deformation sexual dysfunction and mental impairment Each child is an individual with differing degrees of disability If we have the chance to lessen the extent of injury why wouldnt we do that asks Dr Joseph Bruner Director of Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy at Vanderbilt httpwwwfetal-surgerycom 102900 Copyright 1998-2000 fetal-surgerycom Fetal surgery for spina bifida is intended to decrease the handicaps associated with spina bifida by protecting the fetuses previously exposed spinal tissue from additional damage by the amniotic fluid and intrauterine movement Doctors say this procedure can not restore neurological function which has already been lost but it may prevent additional loss from occurring due to the intrauterine environment httpwwwfetal-surgerycom 102900 Copyright 1998-2000 fetal-surgerycom As an added and unexpected benefit it was discovered that the procedure apparently affects the way the brain develops in utero allowing certain malformations of the brain typically associated with spina bifida to correct themselves Its extraordinary that the malformation goes away Dr Scott Adzick told the Philadelphia Inquirer Because of the malformation traditionally more then 90 of children with spina bifida required a shunt to drain fluid off the brain Shunts are bad news Adzick said The average kid needs three or more in a lifetime Research appears to indicate that children whom have had fetal
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