How does open spina bifida affect the body?

The degree to which open spina bifida affects the body is dependent upon the amount of damage to the nerves and the size/location of the spinal opening. Nerve damage lead to paralysis and other forms of neurological damage. Open spina bifida is the most severe variation of the deformity, and it is not unusual for major physical and mental complications to result from it. In particular, the defect can cause a condition known as a Chiari II malformation, in which the rear of the brain presses down on the spinal canal and neck, leading to problems with breathing and swallowing. Having a Chiari II malformation also increases the likelihood of the child developing hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid on the brain that can potentially lead to brain damage.  Meningitis, a potentially deadly infection of the protective covering around the spinal cord and brain, has a higher rate of occurrence in infants with open spina bifida. As children with open spina bifida age, they can develop other complications such as bowel and bladder control issues, latex allergies, and depression.


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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.