Scott Price: Hello! I am Scott Price, President of the Spina Bifida Foundation. I serve as a National Advocate for spina bifida related issues. And I am also the proud father of an adult son, who lives with spina bifida.
Spina bifida is a neural tube defect, which occurs when a new born babies spinal column fails to close completely. Within the first 28 days of pregnancy, usually before a woman is even aware that she is pregnant. A neural plate is formed and as it rolls up to form, the spinal column for some reason, that still not understood, an opening forms along the two. This opening, this open spine is spina bifida.
No two cases, are exactly the same. But in general those affected by spina bifida, usually experience significant paralysis and mobility problems, bowel and bladder difficulties and some may develop, latex allergy, obesity, skin breakdowns, gastrointestinal disorders, learning disabilities and depression.
Approximately 90% of those with the most challenging form of spina bifida also face life threatening hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus resolves when the excess spinal fluid that was free floating before the open spine was closed begins to press on the brain, which can cause brain damage, retardation or even death. Wonderfully a shunt may be implanted in the brain, which drains the fluid off. But this shunt that's remain in place for a life and may require repeated surgical revisions.
The cause of spina bifida is not yet known, but we are working on it. Scientist believe that there may be a genetic predisposition and possibly some type of environmental trigger. Think about this. There are about 65 million, women of child bearing age in our country and all of them are at risk for a spina bifida affected pregnancy.
In the next segment, we will consider the various types of spina bifida and how they are diagnosed.