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 disease.[toc]
Classifying according to seriousness of ailment, we see three classes of Spina Bifida.
- Myelomeningocele: This form of the ailment is the most severe.
- Spina Bifida Occulta: This is the mildest form
- 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
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
- 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.
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
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.