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Spina Bifida is a birth defect that occurs at the end of the first month of pregnancy.
This birth defect involves incomplete development of the spinal cord or spinal coverings. At the end of the first month of pregnancy, the embryo's spine fail to fuse together leaving an open area. This open area in the back, can lead to the spinal cord or other membranes exerting through the area. Spina Bifida can have different severities, such as little to know symptoms at all to immobility and parlysis. Most children with Spina Bifida are severley delayed, the higher up on the spianl cord, the greater degree of severties and paralysis.

The rate of Spina BIfida has slowly started to decrease since 1995
The rate of Spina BIfida has slowly started to decrease since 1995

Spina Bifida in the United States has decreased since 1995.


There are four different types of Spina Bifida
that range from) mild to severe:

  • Occulta: This is the mildest and most common form in which one or more vertebrae are malformed. This rarely causes disability or symptoms and is hidden by a layer of skin in the spine.

  • external image SpinaBifida.jpgClosed Neural Tube Defects: The second type of Spina Bifida consiting (consists) of defects marked by (the) malformation of fat, bone, or membranes. In some patients there are no symptoms while in others, there are causes of (symptoms include) incomplete paralysis with urinary and bowel disfunction.

  • Meningocele: The third type, in which the meninges protrude from the spinal opening and (omit "and") may or may not be covered by a layer of skin. Some have very few symptoms while others experience symptoms such as incomplete paralysis with urinary and bowel disfunction.

  • Myelomeningocele: This is the fourth and most severe form. This form occurs when the spinal cord protrudes through the opening of the spine. This results in partial or complete paralysis of all body parts below the spinal opening. The paralysis can be so severe that the patient is unable to walk and has severe urinary and bowel disfunction.


Occulta Spina Bifida

  • small spinal defect
  • hairy lower back area
  • skin lump in the lower back region

Closed Neural Tube Defects

  • visible signs on the outside of the baby's skin including much hair, a dimple, birthmark, lump, or skin opening
  • closely related to the symptoms of Occulta Spina Bifida

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  • missing vertebrae
  • swelling on a newborn's back
  • malformed vertebrae
  • spinal covering


  • loss of bladder or bowel control
  • lack of sensation
  • paralysis of legs; partial or complete
  • weakness in hips, legs or feet of a newborn

Causesexternal image si55551210.jpg

The causes of Spina Bifida are mostly unknown. Researchers suggests that genes may play a role, but in most cases, there are no signs of familial connections. A high fever during the first month of pregnancy, may increase the chances of delivering a baby with Spina Bifida. Environmental factors can also play a key role in increasing chances of Spina Bifida. Women with epilepsy, who take or have taken the drug valproic have an increased risk. A mother's nutrition is also important for the development of a normal child. The insufficient intake of follic acid in the impregnanted woman's diet, can also cause Spina Bifida and other birth defects. Mothers who have been recently informed of their pregnancy are typically suggested prenatal vitamins containing follic (folic)acid. (Awkward sentence construction) It is strongly suggested that women take prenatal vitamins containing folic acid when trying to concieve or at least as soon as they know they are pregnant.

Systems Review

A. Nervous System

The nervous system is greatly affected by
a patient with Spina Bifida. It has effects on the spinal chord (cord), brain, muscles & bones, bowl & bladder. Where the underdeveloped area is occured the higher up the Spina Bifeda the more severe the symptons will be. The higher up the spinal cord the underdeveloped area is located, the more severe the symptoms will be. When the spinal chord is malformed it can cause many neuroligcal neurological problems such as mobility, congitive issuues (cognitive issues), sensation issues and contince (continence problems). Most individuals with Spina Bifida have differences in actual brain development. The brain is usually positioned farther down in the upper spinal clolumn. This placement in the upper spinal column causes the block of cerebrolspinal fulid to flow through the brain smoothly. (Huh? Do you mean ". . . . blocks the smooth flow of cerebrospinal fluid through the brain.) This extra fluid can be drained, using a shunt, but it still results in abnormal growth of the brain. CSF can be drained back into the body, but it is not a complete solution of this build up. Hydrocephalus is the term for the blocked flow of CSF through the body.

"The neurological affect of Spina Bifida on the nervous system can start from the spinal chord or the brain stem.
"In addition to loss of sensation and paralysis, another neurological complication associated with spina bifida is Chiari II malformation. This is a rare condition (but common in children with myelomeningocele) in which the brainstem and the cerebellum, or rear portion of the brain, protrude downward into the spinal canal or neck area. A Chiari II malformation can lead to compression of the spinal cord and can cause a variety of symptoms, which include:" (Schoenstadt, 2006).

  • Difficulties with feeding
  • Difficulties with swallowing
  • Difficulties with breathing
  • Choking
  • Arm stifness (stiffness)

"The human nervous system develops from a small, specialized plate of cells along the back of an embryo. Early in development, the edges of this plate begin to curl up toward each other, creating the neural tube, which is a narrow sheath that closes to form the brain and spinal cord of the embryo. As development progresses, the top of the tube becomes the brain and the remainder of the tube becomes the spinal cord. This process is usually complete by the 28th day of pregnancy. However, if problems occur during this process, the result can be brain disorders called neural tube defects, including spina bifida." (National Institute of Neurological disorders, 2007).

B. Respiratory System

The respiratory system is also affected by Spina Bifida. A child with this disorder can have trouble with respiration causing a high-pitched sound while breathing in or out.​

C. Phonatory System

Due to the respiratory system being affected a child with spina bifida may have phonatory problems due to the high-pitched sounds when breathing and speaking. A child with spina bifida could also be severley retarded, and may have problems articulating and producing phonation on their own. Therapy is strongly suggested for children with spina bifida for there can be improvements.

D. Articulatory System

If a child with spina bifida is not cognivley able to learn language due to the severity of the disease, and the lower IQ, the child is going to have to be taught the language, and can have much problem in articulation. If the child is unable to grasp the concept of speech, therapy can be met to help a child gain greater articulation skills.

E. Auditory System- Spina Bifida does not have great effect on the auditory system.

Overall Effect on Speech Production

Children and adults who suffer from Spina Bifida often have distinct characteristics that set them apart from their friends and peers. The speech of people who suffer from Spina Bifida is often referred to as 'hyperverbal speech'. Their speech sounds smooth and chatty, but usually is superficial in context. Also people with Spina Bifida like to use large words that appear to be inappropriate and bizzare. Individuals with Spina Bifida have low verbal comprehension compared to their peers and their sentence structure is less complex (Halliday 2007).

Individuals with Spina Bifida have problems with both the discourse and narrative levels of language. As stated before, often individuals have difficulty producing comprehensible sentences, trouble carrying out conversations with other individuals, and have difficulty recalling and telling stories. In most cases these deficits are easily detected but when listening to individuals who have Spina Bifida they seem to have no problems with articulation (Halliday 2007).

Due to their inability to carry out conversation, and their low verbal comprehension skills, individuals often suffer from severe problems in both academic and social settings.


A.D.A.M. (2009). Myelomeningocele. http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/myelomeningocele-children/overview.html

Alexander, M. A.
(2008 ) KidsHealth. http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/ill/spina_bifida.html

Halliday, M. A., (2007, August). Narrative skills in children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.


Handbook of Diseases, (2003). Symptoms of Spina bifida.


Lab Tests Online, (2007).
http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/neural_tube- 2.html

National Institutes of Health, (2007, March).

National Institute of Neurological Disorders. (March 2007). Spina Bifida Fact Sheet.


Schoenstadt, A. (2006, November). An Overview of the Effects of Spina Bifida. [[http://nervous- system.emedtv.com/spinabifida/effects-of-spina-bifida.html|http://nervous- system.emedtv.com/spina-bifida/effects-of-spina-bifida.html]]