Spina Bifida (cont.)
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There are no symptoms that indicate a pregnant woman has a fetus with spina bifida.
The appearance and symptoms of a child who is born with spina bifida depend on how severe the condition is.
Children with severe spina bifida often have parts of the brain and upper spinal cord that are not formed normally. It is also common for these children to have fluid on the brain (hydrocephalus). Related problems can cause:
If hydrocephalus is not treated, it can cause severe intellectual disability or death.
The most severe form of spina bifida (myelomeningocele) almost always affects the function of the limbs and organs in the lower part of the body. The child's ability to walk depends on what part of the spine is affected and how severe the spina bifida is. The lower (lumbar) spine is affected in most cases. The higher on the spine the defect occurs, the more severe and widespread are the problems. See a picture of the spine.
Spinal cord damage caused by severe spina bifida may cause problems such as:
Most children who have severe spina bifida have curvature of the spine—scoliosis, kyphosis (hunchback), or both. It can be present at birth or develop later in life.
Many children who have severe spina bifida develop an allergy to latex, a natural rubber product that is used to make objects such as toys and health care supplies. Doctors do not know why many children with spina bifida develop this allergy. Take extra care to keep your child who has spina bifida away from products that contain latex.
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