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Is spina bifida serious?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

 The seriousness of spina bifida depends on the severity of the spine defect and related nerve damage. Closed forms of spina bifida may result in mild to no obvious  symptoms and have little negative impact on daily life. The more commonly identified, severe open forms of spina bifida do have serious symptoms. These include:
 
-  Paralysis: Spina bifida can result in complete or partial paralysis of the body parts below the spinal opening.
-  Loss of bowel and urinary function: This can occur in both milder and more serious forms of spina bifida.
-  Mental and neurological disabilities: Among the complications of more severe forms of spina bifida, these symptoms are not common but do occur on occasion.
-  Death: In some cases of myelomeningocele, the most severe type of spina bifida, the spinal opening is covered with skin that forms a sac. In other cases, however, it is left open. When the opening is not protected by skin, the exposed tissue and nerve are susceptible to infections that can be fatal.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.