Facts for Spina Bifida Life Expectancy and Unexpected Death

posted in: Life Expectancy | 36

This congenital birth defect affects about 6.2% United States population. Generally termed as split spine, this disability occurs while the baby is in womb. In the first thirty days, the spine of the baby child is soft resembling tissue and not bone. Due to reasons unknown, vertebrae develops a gap during formative process. In all, we see 41.974 million people having Spina Bifida ailment. There are no indications to show how one may determine the factors that mark the severity of this diseaseModern medical care has made is easier to help those affected by Spina Bifida..[toc]

Classifying according to seriousness of ailment, we see three classes of Spina Bifida.

  1. Myelomeningocele: This form of the ailment is the most severe.
  2. Spina Bifida Occulta: This is the mildest form
  3. Meningocele: Mild symptoms might manifest.

Investigations are on into reasons and it seems that they have chances of being either genetic or environmental. Spina Bifida (SB) takes place when mother is one month pregnant and neural tube is still open. Spina Bifida life expectancy varies according to intensity of ailment. Even then, the factor of certainty remains undefined since there are many cases that prove the statement wrong.

Causes for Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida depends on severity of symptoms.Pregnant women who neglect taking folate in their diet end up with this problem. The chances for a child to have this ailment is more if the previous child has it. The chances increase even when one of the parents have this problem. Obesity too seems to increase the incidence of SB.

  • Improper diet during pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Hereditary factor

SB is not present in the genes. It is not a communicable disease either. It is more of a diet related disease.

Symptoms that this Ailment Manifests


Commonly occurring signs happen due to water on the brain along with improper closure of vertebrae of spinal cord during its formative stages. We can treat most symptoms.  Patients having myelomeningocele need support. Detection of symptoms occurs through the blood test to detect the levels of amino-fetoprotein. If level of AFP is high, there is good chances that SB will be present. One can also use ultrasound to detect presence of ailment. After the birth, physicians will study the medical imaging to confirm this ailment. They may experience mild to severe back pain. The split in the spine may be so slight as to not cause any external symptoms. In many cases involving Spina Bifida Occulta, that person will not be aware that he or she is affected. There is chance that a patch of hair or birthmark gives an indication of the ailment.

Expectancy of Life in Adult and Children

Given present state in health support facilities and modern medicine, adults with SB can live until they are 30 years of age or more. What once was 25 years has now increased to become 35 and 40. We can see people with SB live well into their 60s without showing any kind of impediments due to SB.

In the case of children, the situation has improved for the better over the last decade or so. One study conducted two and a half decades ago shows that Myelomeningocele child patients could have a lifespan of twenty years or more. One must monitor the shunt all the time carefully for preventing any untoward occurrences.

Steps to prevent SB

Simplest way to keep SB from your door is to increase the intake of folate in the diet of a woman who is in the family way. This should be done well before the woman becomes pregnant and also during the pregnancy. Other things you could do are increase amount of exercise in your daily schedule and eating healthy, nutritious items on a daily basis.

Unexpected Death

Among children with SB, for every three children, one will die before they cross their fifth year of life. The important thing is to get urinary tract infections treated right away. One must also take care of pressure sores. There were an additional 25.9% deaths over the next three decades.

Treatment for SB


Children with severe form of SB will live up to 5 years only.Surgical intervention will be used to close the gap in the spinal cord before or after birth. If hydrocephalus is present, then one must use a shunt. For patients who have trouble with movement, wheelchairs and crutches will be employed. If spinal cord is tethered it may be corrected through surgery. For those who do not have adequate control over their bladder, catheterization may be recommended. U.S. Public Health recommended that pregnant women take 400mcg of folic acid on a daily basis in 1992. This abruptly brought down the rate of incidence of this ailment by 30.4%. Physical exercise will also help the affected people. They must put in at the very least 60 minutes of exercises as this could increase their life expectancy. It also helps to get around hyperlipidemia. The person becomes fresher and loses his or her depressive outlook of life.

Bottom line on Spina Bifida Life Expectancy

You have eight children out of nine born with Spina Bifida get through life effortlessly. This is due to the modern medical care systems and use of locomotion aids such as wheelchairs. Those with learning disabilities will need special care and continuous monitoring.

36 Responses

  1. Marc Grisham

    Oh, those poor, poor children! I am really sad to read about such occurrences. I wish medical facility would improve faster and help all the innocent children.

  2. Paul Miller

    I am a 45yr old man that was born with Spina Bifida. I have lived a completely “normal” life. I am completely independent. I dated. Married. I am employed. I have hobbies. I have a very active social life. I drive everything that a person living without a disability does and more. I am truly abitous. My only complaint is that there is more medical research in children born with Spina Bifida than adults. This makes no sense and must change. I live in Chicago,IL and once I hit my 40’s I have found it impossible to find appropriate healthcare for adults born with Spina Bifida. We as adults want the right to life as I am sure parents with Children born with Spina Bifida would also like to see them grow up to see adulthood as well. Sincerely, Paul Miller

  3. Mrs. Odie Poiya

    I did know that healthy food was needed during pregnancy. But only now I am reading about folate in this article. I am now more aware of the health aspects required for women. Thanks.

  4. Gopal Sharma

    So sad to read about babies having to suffer this way. I think we all must pay more attention to our diet.

  5. This is a serious problem that comes through ignorance. We must educate people about the dangers of neglecting proper nutrition.

  6. It is interesting to read about the genetic factor. So, it can be passed on from mother to child.

  7. Administration

    Yes, Poula, it is possible. But, the disease is more diet related than anything. If you take care of your diet, it should take care of you.

  8. Hedro William

    How does this happen? I mean spine cannot break when the baby does not do anything.

  9. John McCormack

    It happens due to the improper joining of the bones. When the mother does not take nutritious food, the spine of the baby does not grow fully.

  10. David Rushton

    I am a 46 year old male with spina bifida. I have been blessed to live very normally despite the need of a leg brace and sometimee crutches or a cane. I was always treated like I was normal and I do my best to be that way, though it is getting harder and ached and pains are more frequent. I have a beautiful wife and five amazing children. I am an assistant principal at a public school with much poverty. I hope to leave a legacy that shows you can overcome.

  11. John McCormack

    David, Thank you for your story. I wish you all the best.

  12. Daniel Fredrick

    Why does the spine need nutrition? You can have other bone problems too, right?

  13. John McCormack

    Yes, Mr. Fredrick, one might face all kinds of problems. But, the spine needs nutrition to join to one another. They are in small pieces and must join when the baby grows up. For this, the mother must take proper nutrition.

  14. John McCormack

    Then why do we have spine problems?

  15. Daniel Fredrick

    Then why do we have spine problems?

  16. John McCormack

    The spine forms the most important part of the skeletal and nervous system in the body. This must develop properly for the rest of the body to be strong. The first nutrition thus goes for the growth of the spine. If this is not enough, then you will develop problems.

  17. Daniel Fredrick

    Ah! I see. Thank you, now I understand.

  18. Thanks, Daniel, Mr. McCormack. I am happy to have your support.

  19. Daniel Fredrick

    Make the mother walk. This helps a lot.

  20. John McCormack

    Yes, there is. The father can get food rich in folate for the mother. The primary health care provider will tell you the best food to give.

  21. Very sorry for the poor child. Is there anything the father can do?

  22. My precious baby girl has spina bifida. She is the light of my life and is very healthy despite having SB. I am also an RN and not ignorant to the fact that nutrition is important. I took 900mcg of folate prior to becoming pregnant and throughout my pregnancy, and it still occured. That is over half the recommended dose. Sometimes, it just happens. Nobody in my family has SB. It just happened. I agree- encourage foliate and proper nutrition, but do not assume that it alone can prevent spina bifida but it does not in all cases.

  23. Niall McEntee

    I also have Spina Bifida. I am just about to turn 51, I am wheelchair bound but lead a perfectly normal life. I am in full time employment and thankfully in good health. Will proper care and attention there is no reason why some with this condition can’t lead a healthy life with a normal life expectancy

  24. John McCormack

    Niall, thank you for your story. I wish you all the best.

  25. Rodriguez Gonsales

    Food is important. Pay attention to the diet always.

  26. Rodriguez Gonsales

    Yes, women need more nutrition during pregnancy.

  27. John McCormack

    Yes, women need more nutrition during their pregnancy.

  28. Cheryl Rhodes

    My son was born with Spina Bifida. I had no idea there was a strong hereditary factor in my family for SB. My son passed away at the age of 28 in 2005. He lived by himself and played wheelchair basketball. He sang gospel and was often called out of state to sing. He was my first born and he had Myelo. My second child was born 19 months later. She was diagnosed at age 7 with SB Occulta. She is 38. Has very little problems. I had other children that didn’t have SB. I was told if my children had a different father they wouldn’t of had SB. I often think about this. How do they know since it was my genetics that carried the defect? When I had my children folic acid wasn’t known as the key. I know they drew blood from my son and myself for the study when they were older. I wish all of you with SB a long and prosperous life.

  29. I am a 37 year old woman with spina bifida. I have a partner, two healthy children and a part time job. I’ve always been encouraged to live a normal life which I will be forever grateful to my parents for this. Things are getting harder with time but I hope to live a full and happy life for years to come!

  30. I know a friend who has Myelo. He does not show it but I think it is a struggle for him. I pray for his well being.

  31. My daughter was just diagnosed in Oct at the age of 25. in the few months that she has known about this she has declined rapidly. she is unable to move in the mornings, has trouble walking at times and in having bathroom accidents. I am at a loss and am looking at everything that is written on the subject. Can anyone suggest a good resource?

  32. Mrs. Eva Vikas Jacob

    I am from India. I lost my 8 months unborn boy few days ago because my son was hydrocephalus, Spina bifida, short lumbar Spine and dorsiflex turned feet. Because doctors advised me for abort my unborn son. Doctors told me if my son get born he will be not survive long time. i did not saves my son, He was my first baby after 2 years marriage, I have PCOD syndrome but one overy is now heal.
    My baby is died, i am the reason. Because am from low middle class family. Jesus gives me every things in my life.
    After my birth i lost my mother when i was 2 an half year, my father lost his job, money and home. i lived without these things. My father supported me every time in life. When i was 20 years i got my love my hubby, after marry i lost my son. Don’t know what will happen with me further.
    How can i saves my next baby from Spina bifida, because i have not brave for losing my child. And pray for me, my hubby and my father.. we are so sad. I miss my baby .. love you my son. I will come soon by naturally and meet you.

  33. Me too my daughter she is born with spina bafidia yah it was hard to accept especially when i realised at the age of 2 year’s she paralysed but now am fine she 10 year’s old I told my self anything happen for reason and baby father run away at the age of 3 years

  34. KWise thank you so much for your comment. I read this article and felt that it kinda placed the blame on the mother who had a poor diet when I know from personal experience that that’s not always the case. My sister just passed at 45. She had the most severe form of Spina Bifida. My mom is a little lady that has always had a pretty balanced diet. I think that it is reckless for a so-called doctor to write this misleading article. “Pregnant women who neglect taking folate in their diet end up with this problem”….. really?! With this “problem?!” Can you tell the truth please?

  35. Kham Favila

    Are there someone with Myelo and undergone surgery after birth? My sister’s baby has been diagnosed Myelo she’s in her 8th month of pregnancy. We are so nervous. We also hope everything will be okay.

  36. Graham

    Our Daughter had surgery the day after she was born to cover the base of her spine. She is now nearly 3 and has no signs of SB. She has not required a shunt, is toilet training well and walks, jumps and runs around with other kids. We have been very lucky and blessed to have such an amazing daughter.

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