Spina bifida is a type of birth defect. It is a problem with how the spine and spinal cord develop. Spina bifida can begin to develop in a fetus before the mother even knows she is pregnant. In some cases, structures that should be inside the spinal canal can slip out. The structures affected may include:
- Membranes that surround the spinal cord
- Nerve roots that connect nerves to the spinal cord
- The spinal cord
- Back bones—may be deformed
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There are three kinds of spina bifida:
- Occulta—small defect in one or more backbones, least severe form, usually no complications
- Meningocele—membranes poke through an open part of the spine and can form a cyst
- Myelomeningocele—most severe form of spina bifida, membranes poke through and contain nerve roots or spinal cord and can lead to:
Last reviewedJune 2014by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.