Spina Bifida

What is Spina Bifida?

Spina Bifida is a congenital developmental disorder characterized by the incomplete closure of the neural tube – also known as a neural tube defect (NTD) – which occurs when the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) does not form normally in the womb during the early stages of pregnancy. This leaves some vertebrae of the spinal open, and occasionally there is also a fluid-filled sac on the spinal cord.

It is very common; currently, it holds the number one permanently-disabling birth defect in the United States and occurs worldwide in about 1 in every 1000 births.  Today, there are approximately 70,000 people in the U.S. alone living with Spina Bifida.

The exact cause of Spina Bifida is still unknown; however, medical research has confirmed a link between a mother’s folate levels prior to pregnancy and the occurrence of Spina Bifida and other related neural tube defects. Studies show that consuming .4 mg of folic acid prior to and throughout the first trimester of pregnancy could reduce the incidence of Spina Bifida by up to 75%.

What conditions are associated with Spina Bifida?

The effects of Spina Bifida can differ from person to person, but it typically affects the orthopedic (spinal/skeletal), urological, and central nervous system.

Various secondary conditions can also include:

  • Full or partial paralysis
  • Neurological complications
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Bladder and bowel control difficulties
  • Learning disabilities
  • Depression
  • Latex allergy
  • Social and sexual issues
  • Spinal curvatures (scoliosis)
  • Unfused/deformed vertebrae overlying the open portion of the spinal cord

Is my child with Spina Bifida ready to self-catheterize?

by Louisa Salvin, RN

Certain physical and mental abilities are required in order to successfully learn to do self-catheterization. Try these different activities to determine if your child may be ready to learn:

  • Hold a pencil with a pincer grasp and do up and down strokes.
  • Thread a shoelace.
  • With eyes closed, feel a hole and place a peg in it.
  • With your child watching you, place three objects in a bag. Do something else for a few minutes. Then have the child tell you what’s in the bag and in what order the objects were placed in the bag.

If your child is ready to start intermittent self-catheterization, check out the 180 Medical Kids Club on our website. The Kids Club was created to help you and your child adjust to this new process with one-of-a-kind educational material and fun activities that will help to teach how to use catheters correctly to reduce the risk of infections. Through this club, you can learn more about Ethan & Emma, 180 Medical’s own storybook characters with spina bifida who can help to familiarize your child with self-cathing.

Many people with Spina Bifida use intermittent catheters and other urological products for their continence needs. 180 Medical is a respected catheter supplier across the nation, and we’ll be glad to help you find the best intermittent catheters for your needs.No matter which of the urinary catheter kits suits you best–male or female, closed, hydrophilic, intermittent, or pediatric–180 Medical is here to help.

Additional information and resources on Spina Bifida:
Spina Bifida Association
Frequently Asked Questions About Spina Bifida (FAQs)
180 Medical Kids Club

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