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All About Spina Bifida

All About Spina Bifida

all about spina bifida 180 medical

What is Spina Bifida?

Spina bifida is a congenital developmental disorder characterized by the incomplete closure of the neural tube, which is also known as a neural tube defect. This condition occurs when a baby’s spinal cord does not form normally in the womb during the early stages of pregnancy. This leaves some vertebrae of the spinal open. Additionally, a fluid-filled sac may be apparent on the child’s back.

How Common is Spina Bifida?

It is quite common. Currently, it is the number one permanent congenital disability in the United States. In addition, it occurs in about 1 of every 1,000 births across the world. Today, it’s estimated that around 166,000 individuals with spina bifida live in the U.S.


What Causes Spina Bifida?

The exact cause is still unknown. However, medical research confirmed a link between a mother’s folate levels prior to pregnancy and the occurrence of spina bifida and other related neural tube defects.

According to the Spina Bifida Association, women who become pregnant could potentially reduce the risk of spina bifida by up to 70% by supplementing their diet with a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid. However, it may be a good idea to have a diet naturally high in folate. Folate is found in vegetables, such as spinach, kale, arugula, and other salad greens, as well as beans, peas, nuts, and fruit.

folic acid salad greens
A diet high in folate may help prevent spina bifida.

What are Spina Bifida’s Symptoms?

The symptoms of this congenital condition range from mild to severe, and they vary from person to person. However, it typically affects the spine as well as the urological and central nervous system.

Symptoms and/or related secondary conditions sometimes include:

  • Full or partial paralysis
  • Neurogenic bladder and/or bowel
  • Mobility issues
  • Tethered spinal cord
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Sleep apnea
  • 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

In order for your child to successfully learn how to cath, they must have certain physical and mental abilities first. Your child can try out a few different activities with you to see if they may be ready to start self-catheterization on their own.

The activities you can have your child perform are:

  • First, hold a pencil with a pincer grasp and do up and down strokes.
  • Thread a shoelace.
  • With their eyes closed, have them feel a hole and place a peg in it.
  • With your child watching you, place 3 random objects in a bag. Do something else for a few minutes. Next, have the child tell you what’s in the bag and in what order the objects were placed in the bag.

180 Medical Kids Club

If you think your child is ready to start intermittent self-catheterization, check out the 180 Medical Kids Club. 180 Medical created their Kids Club as a fun way to help your child adjust to the new process of self-cathing with unique and colorful educational material. In addition, they’ll receive some fun activities that will also help them learn how to use catheters correctly to stay hygienic and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.

Through the 180 Medical Kids Club, your child will meet Ethan and Emma, 180 Medical’s own storybook characters with spina bifida. Ethan and Emma help familiarize you and your child with self-cathing. Plus, these characters make the process of catheterization a normal and healthy part of your new daily routine.

Your child is not alone in their needs. People everywhere use intermittent catheters, incontinence products, and other medical supplies.

180 Medical is a respected national supplier of urinary catheters, incontinence supplies, and ostomy products. We have experience in helping people of all ages (even as young as newborns) find the right products for their unique needs, including pediatric catheters for spina bifida. Our highly trained specialists are honored to be able to help you customize an order that truly fits your child’s needs and preferences.

180 medical kids club

Additional Spina Bifida Resources

Spina Bifida Association
Frequently Asked Questions About Spina Bifida (FAQs)
Spina Bifida on the 180 Medical Blog
180 Medical Kids Club

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