The symptoms of spina bifida vary greatly with the severity of the disorder. If you have occulta, the least severe type of spina bifida, you will likely have no symptoms. The second most severe type of spina bifida encompasses closed neural tube defects, in which the disorder is marked by a tuft of hair, dimple, or other noticeable birthmark. In some cases, this type of spina bifida does not cause symptoms, but in other cases, sufferers might be partially paralyzed or have trouble regulating urinary and bowel functions.
Meningocele, the third most severe kind of spina bifida, involves protrusion of the membranes that cover the spine (meninges) and part of the spinal cord through a bone defect in the spine. In this case, affected individuals' symptoms may range from have few or no symptoms of spina bifida to incomplete paralysis with urinary and bowel dysfunction.
Finally, myelomeningocele, the most severe type of spina bifida, occurs when the open lesion or sac is present on the back containing abnormal spinal cord, nerves meninges, vertebral bodies, and skin. This type of defect can result in paralysis, problems with bowel and bladder control, leg and feet abnormalities, and brain formation abnormalities.