Medical Negligence
Compensation Amounts
Negligence Law
Gynaecology Obstetrics
Brain Haemorrhage
Cauda Equina Injury
Cancer Misdiagnosis
Dental Negligence
Gastric Band Errors
Cerebral Palsy
Birth Injury
Erbs Palsy


Address 1
Address 2
Address 3
Phone Number
Negligence Date
Negligence Details


HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

Spina Bifida is a congenital birth defect that involves an incomplete development of the base of the spinal cord. It can also be a result of the failure of the membranes of the spinal cord to close. In Latin, the term means "split spine". It happens during the first month of pregnancy when the two sides of the embryo's spine fail to join together, so there is an open area visible. Sometimes the membranes bulge through the opening of the back, yielding a bulge in the back.

The cause of spina bifida is basically unknown. It may be genetic or it may not. A high fever in pregnancy can contribute to the development of spina bifida. Women with epilepsy who take valproate as a medication for their condition can have an increased risk of spina bifida.

There are two types of spina bifida. There is spina bifida occulta, which is fairly mild. Most people have the disease but do not know it because they have no obvious symptoms. It can be found only on x-ray. Another form is spina bifida manifesta. There are two types of spina bifida manifesta. One is meningomyelocele. This involves the meninges, which are the membranes responsible for protecting the brain and spinal cord. The meninges push through an opening into the vertebrae and form a sac known as the meningocele. A meningomyelocele is a severe form of spina bifida. It happens because the meninges and the spinal cord itself push through the vertebrae. These children often have hydrocephalus as well.

A child born with a myelomeningocele often has some form of paralysis, with paraplegia being the most common manifestation of the disease. The degree of paralysis depends on the level of the spinal cord affected. There are problems with bladder and bowel control and some children have brain disorders like learning difficulties and ADHD.

Spina bifida can be checked using a certain kind of blood test called an alpha-fetoprotein level. This is a blood test that is elevated in the blood of women with fetuses with spina bifida. The test is done between the 16th and the 18th week of pregnancy. If the alpha fetoprotein level is elevated, an ultrasound can be done to show the presence of spina bifida. The spinal cord defect can be seen on the ultrasound. Sometimes an amniocentesis can be done to determine whether or not the child has spina bifida by checking the alpha fetoprotein level inside the uterus.

Mothers who do not take in enough folic acid are at risk for having children with spina bifida. This is why there is extra folic acid in prenatal vitamins. Women who are pregnant or want to be pregnant need to consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid per day.

The symptoms of spina bifida depend on the type of spina bifida and on the level the spina bifida occurs at. In spina bifida occulta, there may be no symptoms or there can be symptoms including a dimple on the skin or a tuft of hair in the lower back. A birthmark may show up on the outer skin at the level of the spina bifida. Other forms of spina bifida have significant side effects. There can be a sac as large as a grapefruit on the baby's lower back. Babies who have a myelomeningocele may have a sac that is not skin-covered but just shows the membrane. Babies who also have a hydrocephalus will have an enlarged head.

Treatment of spina bifida may be nothing or may involve surgery to correct the defect in the meninges and spinal cord. The operation is done early in infancy and, if the spinal cord is not affected, there will be no paralysis. If the spinal cord is damaged, there will be residual paralysis. A baby with coexisting hydrocephalus will have a shunt placed in order to reduce the degree of fluid buildup in the brain. Some children need later surgery to correct problems with their spine, hips or feet.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our personal injury solicitors operate a specialist medical negligence compensation service. Our Spina Bifida solicitors deal with claims using a no win no fee arrangement which means that if you don�t win then you don�t pay them their professional costs. If you would like legal advice at no cost with no further obligation just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or use the helpline and a Spina Bifida solicitor will review your medical negligence compensation claim and phone you immediately.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here