Spina bifida
Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida: Definition, Types, Symptoms, and Causes

Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs due to impaired formation of neural tubes during the baby in the womb. This causes the appearance of a gap in the vertebrae.

The nervous system develops from a cell disc along the back of the embryo. In the first month of pregnancy, the ends of these discs curl, close, and form neural tubes. Over time, these neural tubes will develop into the brain and nervous system in the spine.

If this process is interrupted, neural tube defects may occur. Spina bifida is one of the most common types of neural tube defects, where some vertebrae of the fetus do not close completely and create gaps.

Spina Bifida Definition

Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord are not properly formed. This disease is a form of neural tube abnormality. In spina bifida, the neural tube does not close perfectly, so the spine lining and protecting it does not form and close properly. This eventually causes damage to both components (the spinal cord and spine).

Spina Bifida Types and Symptoms

The symptoms of spina bifida can be seen from the three most common forms, namely the following:


Myelomeningocele is the most serious type of spina bifida. This condition is characterized by the appearance of fluid-filled sacs through the holes in the baby’s back. Part of the spinal cord and nerves inside the sac are damaged. This type causes moderate to severe deformities, such as scoliosis, seizures, bowel problems, numbness in the limbs, and loss of ability to move the legs.


In the meningocele, a fluid-filled sac comes out of the hole in the back, but there is no part of the spinal cord. In this condition, there is usually no or there is little nerve damage. Minor disabilities such as mild bowel disorders.

Spina Bifida Okulta

It is the most common spina bifida and is the mildest. The naked eye is not very noticeable abnormalities, other than there is a distance on the spine. Most people with spina bifida okulta only find out about their condition during a routine X-ray. This type usually does not cause interference.

Spina Bifida Causes

Until now doctors did not know what caused spina bifida. Like many other disorders, the disease is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including a family history of neural tube defects and folate deficiency.

Some of the factors associated with an increased risk of spina bifida are:

Folate deficiency.

Folate (vitamin B9) is essential for the development of a healthy baby. Folate is a natural form of vitamin B9. The type of synthetics found in supplements and fortified foods is folic acid. Folate deficiency increases the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects.

Family history with neural tube defects.

Couples with one child with a neural tube defect are slightly higher likely to have the next child suffering from the same defect. The risk is increased in couples with two children with neural tube defects.

Consumption of certain medications while pregnant.

Consumption of certain types of medication, such as anti-seizure treatment of certain groups, is related to the risk of neural tube defects when consumed while pregnant. It is thought to be related to the body’s ability to use folate and folic acid.


Women with diabetes with uncontrolled blood sugar levels have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with spina bifida.


Obesity before pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida, in infants.

Increased body temperature.

Some scientific research has shown that an increase in body temperature in the early weeks of pregnancy may increase the risk of spina bifida in infants.

Increased body temperature due to fever, using a sauna, or a hot shower, is associated with an increased risk of spina bifida occurrence in infants.


Last Updated on June 4, 2021 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team

Sharing is caring!