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In the first few weeks of conception, the embryo in your womb grows its fundamental structure which is referred to as the neural tube. Over time this develops into the baby's bones, tissues, and nerves. This will eventually form the whole nervous system and the spine of the baby. Spina bifida is a congenital disability which affects the spine of the fetus. When the fetus develops spina bifida, the development of the neural tube and the spinal column goes wrong and to it doesn't fully close. The three top kinds of spina bifida are:

  • Myelomeningocele
  • Spina bifida occulta
  • Spina bifida meningocele
When unborn babies who are diagnosed with spina bifida, it means that their neural tube hasn't developed well. This results in an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid, which can result in hydrocephalus and brain damage. When this happens, the built-up pressure might need to be alleviated through surgical procedures. Treatment for spina bifida has improved over the years, but there is still no known cure. However, there are some causes of this disorder which can be avoided or treated.

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Not Enough Folic Acid

During pregnancy, women need to visit a physician for proper prenatal care. One of the most common steps in ensuring the health of a growing baby is to take vitamins and supplements. This will aid in the development of the fetus. One of the essential kinds of vitamins is folic acid. Some research has shown that women who do not have the right amount of folic acid during pregnancy will have a higher likelihood of giving birth to a baby with spina bifida. Though the correlation between folic acid and the prevention of spina bifida hasn't been established, it would be a good idea to ensure that the folic acid intake is enough while pregnant.

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Getting a High Fever During Pregnancy

When a woman contracts high fever during pregnancy for one reason or another, the chances of her having a baby with this disorder increases. This could be because of the illness itself or the medicines taken to treat the illness. So it's essential for pregnant women to take good care of their body or their health so that they don't get sick during their pregnancy as it may take a toll on the developing fetus.

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Diabetes and Epilepsy

Diabetes in itself is a debilitating disease which needs to be monitored and controlled, so it doesn't develop into a higher type. Compared to other females, women with diabetes would have a greater chance of their baby developing spina bifida in the womb. To be able to treat this or prevent it from happening, you would have to take extra precautions and regularly consult with your physician to manage your diabetes and monitor the baby's development. All the drugs and medication which needs to be taken for your disease would have to be approved by your physician.

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Obesity

Women who are qualified as being obese would have an increased risk of having a baby develop spina bifida. Women whose body mass index is 30 would have a high risk and as the body mass index increases so do the risk. To reduce the chances of having a baby with this disorder, it would be a good idea to look into losing weight first before planning to get pregnant. This would also be a lot more convenient as being pregnant can be quite challenging so being pregnant while obese would be a lot more difficult.

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Spina Bifida Gene

Though a lot of studies have shown that there is no single gene for spina bifida and it can happen in any pregnancy, some people are found to be predisposed to it. Women who have a history of neural tube defects in their family have a high risk of having a baby with such a disorder. Also, couples who have a child with this kind of genetic disorder have a fairly increased risk of having another child with the same problem.

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Genetic Illnesses

Since this disorder is genetic in nature, it can happen together with other genetic conditions such as Down's syndrome, Patau's syndrome or Edward's syndrome, though very rarely. This disorder is genetic, and so the treatment for this cause might be quite difficult. Instead, you can have yourself tested regularly and using different kinds of tests before you plan to get pregnant to see if you have any risk of having a baby with spina bifida and take it from there.

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Taking Medication

Pregnant women are generally advised against taking any sort of medication so as not to affect the development of the fetus in the womb. Taking specific medications while pregnant might heighten the risk of the baby developing spina bifida or other similar congenital disabilities. So if you happen to get sick while pregnant or you have an existing illness which requires medication, you would have to consult with your physician each time you take the medication. There's a reason why medicines and drugs are discouraged so if possible, try safer alternatives and treatments.

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Epilepsy

Just like diabetes, epilepsy is a very devastating disease which may require constant monitoring and medication to control it. For women who have epilepsy, taking medicine valproic acid to control the seizures might have an effect on the baby and increase the risk of developing the disorder. You might have to look for alternative treatments for the seizures during the pregnancy to lower the risk. Otherwise, come up with a plan with your physician on how to go about the whole pregnancy safely.

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Environmental and Economic Factors

Women who live below the poverty line and exposed to poor nutrition. This may put you at a higher risk of having a baby with this defect. This is probably the least likely cause, but it's still worth considering. In any case, no matter what economic status you have, try and make sure to take care of yourself. Make efforts to be healthy while pregnant so that you can lower the risk.

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No Exact Cause

To honest, there is no precise cause of this particular congenital disability. The bottom line is, you will have to consult with your physician regularly. Monitor the development of your baby at each stage. Once abnormalities are detected, you can then take steps to treat. If your baby does develop this disorder, immediately look into how to address it.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.