Spina bifida is a birth defect that is part of a group known as neural tube defects, and occurs when the bones of the spine improperly form around the spinal cord. In a fetus with spina bifida, part of the neural tube does not develop fully or close properly by the 28th day after conception. There are three main types – spina bifida occulta, meningocele, and myelomeningocele – and symptoms and severity vary depending on the type. The most severe form is myelomeningocele and symptoms include a protruding sac on the back, muscle weakness in the legs, bowel and bladder problems, seizures and orthopedic problems. Treatment depends on the type and severity, and include surgery and ongoing maintenance of symptoms.
Organizations exist to help and support those dealing with spina bifida in their lives.