October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month

Posted by GO Medical on

I personally have interacted with the spina bifida community for many years as I was fortunate enough to attend the annual national spina bifida conferences in different cities around the country. I saw many of the same families every year and watched their kids grow up. What an amazing group!

Spina Bifida is one of the most common birth defects. According to the March of Dimes, it affects 1 in 2,500 babies in the United States.

Spina bifida is a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings. The term spina bifida comes from Latin and literally means "split" or "open" spine.

Spina bifida occurs at the end of the first month of pregnancy when the two sides of the embryo's spine fail to join together, leaving an open area. In some cases, the spinal cord or other membranes may push through this opening in the back. The condition usually is detected before a baby is born and treated right away.

Every woman of child-bearing age is at risk of having a child with Spina Bifida. It is recommended that all women of child-bearing age consume 400 micrograms (mgc) of folic acid daily. This can reduce the risk of having a child with a neural tube defect; however, it is no guarantee.

The three most common types of Spina Bifida are:

Myelomeningocele: This is the most severe form of Spina Bifida. With this type of Spina Bifida, a fluid-filled sac comes through an opening in the baby’s back. Because part of the spinal cord and nerves are contained in this sac, moderate to severe disabilities can result.

Meningocele: With this type of Spina Bifida, the sac of fluid protruding from the baby’s back does not contain spinal cord or nerve tissue. There is usually minimal to no nerve damage involved.

Occulta: This is the least severe form of Spina Bifida. It is usually detected in later childhood or adulthood, and some go their entire lives without being diagnosed. With this form, there is an opening in the back, and usually the spinal cord is normal.

Many with spina bifida have excessive CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) - a condition known as hydrocephalus. CSF is a watery fluid which flows through the cavities (ventricles) inside the brain and also around the surface of the brain and spinal cord.

In cases of babies with spina bifida, the accumulation of CSF is caused because the neural tube did not develop properly. Hydrocephalus can result in brain damage, so the built up pressure needs to be alleviated by surgery.

As treatment options have improved, so has the outlook for babies with spina bifida. About 50 years ago the majority of babies would not survive beyond their first twelve months. Nowadays, most patients survive well into adulthood. A considerable number of adults with spina bifida can live independently.

Recent studies have shown that up to 73% of individuals with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus are allergic to latex. It is used to make a variety of common items such as balloons, erasers, and surgical gloves. The cause of latex allergies is unknown but may be due to frequent early exposure through surgical procedures and other medical treatments.

There are many local spina bifida chapters. GO Medical encourages you to get involved in a chapter near you.

Here is the link: http://spinabifidaassociation.org/chapters 

GO Medical is providing those with a spina bifida diagnosis 10% off their orders through the month of October. GO Medical has a huge selection of latex free product in all categories including urology and incontinence. Please contact GO Medical for details.

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