search for information spacer
search birth defects
search environmental factors
search geographic areas
spacer
birth defects the solution is research discoveries and data serving the public visitor type
home page
discoveries and data center
overview
all birth defects
specific conditions
exposures and risk factors
geographic data
publications
faqs

take our survey

Look up in our Glossary

amniocentesis
expanded AFP screening
hydrocephalus
mental retardation
neural tube defects
ultrasound



reference informationReferences


spina bifida

picture- baby with spina bifida About 1 in 2,860 pregnancies in California is diagnosed with spina bifida, an opening in the spinal cord and backbone.

Most people with spina bifida are physically handicapped but mentally normal. The body lacks sensation and muscle control below the defect, and many people with spina bifida use wheelchairs. There are also problems with bowel and bladder control. Almost all children with spina bifida develop extra spinal fluid in the brain (hydrocephalus), which sometimes causes brain damage and mental retardation.

About 20% of affected babies die—usually when the spinal opening is very large, very high up, becomes infected or if other serious birth defects are present. Survivors require a lifetime of medical care and other services, averaging $367,000.

Expanded AFP screening, a prenatal blood test, can detect about 80% of pregnancies with spina bifida. Prenatal diagnosis is also possible with ultrasound and/or amniocentesis.

Spina bifida is a neural tube defect. The neural tube—the precursor to the brain and spinal cord—normally forms about 2-3 weeks after conception, often before a woman misses her period and realizes she might be pregnant. For this reason, we look for risk factors in the "periconception" period, including the month before the pregnancy began.



RELATED STUDY FINDINGS
bullet Anencephaly
bullet

Neural tube defects
- Overview
- Study findings (exposures and
risk factors)

 


contact information