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Today we are discussing spina bifida(split spine).
It's going to be a long one so if you get lost/bored katikati, just save or share it on your timeline utaendelea baadaye.
PS; I'll probably mention the word spina bifida around a hundred times so if you read this and walk around town trying to remember who spina bifida is, usishtuke.
so, Spina Bifida...
It's a Latin word and it literally means split/open spine(the English men were too busy and forgot to assign it a name.)
It happens when a baby's spine does not form normally. As a result, the spinal cord and the nerves that branch out of it may be damaged. It happens at the end of the first month of pregnancy, when a baby's spine and spinal cord are developing.
It can occur in one of two ways:
- Sometimes the defect causes an opening in the back, which is visible. The spinal cord and its coverings sometimes push through this opening.
- Other times, there is no opening and the defect remains hidden under the skin.
Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the defect. Mild defects cause few or no problems, while more severe defects can cause serious problems including weakness, loss of bladder control or paralysis.

Low levels of the vitamin folic acid during pregnancy are linked to spina bifida. Folic acid helps in cell growth and development as well as tissue formation.
If you've been to hospitals often, especially pediatrics hospitals and pharmacies, you must have noticed the emphasis of taking folic acid during pregnancy. It's extremely important for a baby's development.
Not having enough folic acid in your diet before and during pregnancy can increase a woman's risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects.

Women with epilepsy who have taken the drug Valporic acid to control the seizures are at risk of having a baby with spina bifida .

1. Spina Bifida Occulta- Occulta means hidden which means that the defect is usually covered by skin.
It's usually mild and can go unnoticed. The spinal cord does not stick out through the skin although the skin on the lower spine may have a patch of hair, a birthmark or a dimple above the groove between the butt. Inside, the cord may be attached to surrounding tissue instead of floating loosely in the spinal column.
Most babies with with spina bifida occulta do not have long term health problems.

2. Spina Bifida Aperta- Aperta means open.
It includes two types;
a. Meningocele- It involves the meninges (the membranes that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord)
If the meninges push through the hole in the skull or vertabrae, it creates a fluid filled sac called a meningocele. The sac is visible on a baby's head, neck or back.
Babies with this condition can hav health problems if the nerve around the spine are damaged.
E.g if the nerves that control the release of the bowels/bladder are affected, it may be difficult for a child to control these body functions. They may also have trouble moving certain muscles (paralysis).
The degree of paralysis depends on where the meningocele is in the spine. The higher the opening on the back, the more severe the paralysis can be.
b. Myelomeningocele- This is the most severe form of spina bifida. It happens when both the meninges and the bottom end of the spinal cord push through the hole in the spine, forming a large fluid filled sac that bulges out of a baby's back. Sometimes the sac bursts during childbirth and the spine and nerves are exposed at birth. casual and country style wears for a wedding
A baby with this type of spina bifida usually has some paralysis and muscle bone problems as a result of the paralysis.
This is due to the abnormal development of nerves in the spine..
It's also common for babies to have a build up of cerebral-spinal fluid in and around the brain (hydrocephalus).
This causes the baby to have an enlarged head or bulging soft spot at birth which is the result of too much fluid and pressure inside the skull.

Certain prenatal tests will tell if a baby has spina bifida. There's a blood test that's usually done between the 16th and 18th weeks of pregnancy. It's called the Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test and it measures how much AFP, which the fetus produces, has passed into the mother's bloodstream.
If the amount is high, a repeat test is done and if the second result is still high, it could mean that a baby has spina bifida.
In this case, other tests are done to double check and confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment usually depends on severity. Babies with spina bifida Occulta might not need any treatment unless their spinal cord is tethered. Tethering can lead to problems later in life so it's necessary to surgically detach the spinal cord from surrounding tissue.
Babies with spina bifida meningocele need surgery to push the meninges back into the body and close the hole in the vertebrae or skull. This is usually done in the first two months after birth.
Babies with a myelomeningocele need surgery one to two days after birth to protect the exposed area and central nervous system and to prevent these areas from being infected.
If a myelomeningocele is detected early enough during a woman's pregnancy, the fetus can be operated on to correct the defect during the 25th week of pregnancy. During surgery, doctors detach the spinal cord from the skin, push the spinal cord back into place and close the opening.

The only place I know as of right now where they offer surgery and treatment for spina bifida is Kijabe Mission Hospital. If you know of other hospitals please share with us.
Share your experiences if you or a loved one/friend have gone through spina bifida and we'll appreciate.
Thank you for taking time to read this and please share on your timeline.
Have a great day and God bless