According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), spina bifida is a “condition that affects the spine and is usually apparent at birth” and is a type of neural tube defect. Spina bifida can occur anywhere along the spine “if the neural tube does not close all the way.” When this happens the bones that protect the spinal cord do not form or close as they should, which results in damage to the nerves and to the spinal cord. Spina bifida may cause physical and intellectual disabilities that can range from mild to severe. The severity of these disabilities depends on two things: whether part of the spinal cord and nerves are affected, and the size and location of the opening in the spine. There are various types of spina bifida, but the three most common are: myelomeningocele, which is what most people recognize as spina bifida and is the most serious type of spina bifida; meningocele, which can cause minor disabilities; and spina bifida occulta, which usually does not cause any disability and is often not discovered until late childhood or well into adulthood. Most people with spina bifida lead full and productive lives with the right care. The CDC provides information about living with spina bifida at different ages, which includes videos of people with spina bifida and their parents talking about their lives with spina bifida and information on the health issues that can affect some people with spina bifida.
Since 1983, NIDILRR has and continues to fund projects on spina bifida and related topics. NARIC’s information specialists searched the NARIC Collection and found more than 300 articles related to spina bifida from the NIDILRR community and beyond. The NARIC Collection also has over 140 articles on spina bifida from the international research community. The CDC also funds spina bifida research at the Centers for Birth Defects Research and Prevention and helps track the prevalence of spina bifida, which helps researchers look for risk factors and causes of spina bifida. The CDC also provides key findings from their studies and features several articles on different topics related to spina bifida.
If you or someone you know would like to know more about spina bifida, contact NARIC’s information specialists to learn more.