There's no cure for spina bifida and nothing can be done to repair the damaged nerves or reconstruct the central nervous system. Although spina bifida is not a progressive condition, some of its complications, such as hydrocephalus, may get steadily worse. For most people, the lesion is closed shortly after they're born, and there is no further treatment of the condition itself.
Progressive hydrocephalus can be treated with the surgical procedure known as a shunt. A pathway is created that leads from the inside of the skull to some other part of the body (usually the abdomen) where the cerebrospinal fluid can be safely drained and reabsorbed. This procedure is often lifesaving for a child. As they get older, some children with spina bifida may no longer need their shunt, but it's impossible to tell which children, so shunts are usually left in place indefinitely. Shunts carry a risk of serious infection or blockage, however, and for adults with spina bifida, shunt complications are among the leading causes of death, along with kidney failure.
Most people with spina bifida make it to adulthood, but few live to a ripe old age. Things have improved dramatically over the past 20 or 30 years, when spina bifida was usually fatal in childhood. Although the quality of life for people with spina bifida is better now, a real cure for this condition still seems a very long way off. Prevention remains the key.
Women can reduce their chances of a spina bifida pregnancy by taking an adequate dietary supply (0.4 mg a day) of folic acid. It's useless for women to wait until they're pregnant and then start on folic acid, because spina bifida occurs so early in pregnancy that it's already happened by the time a women realizes she's pregnant. Folic acid needs to be in a woman's system at the time of conception. Therefore, women who want to become pregnant should be taking 0.4 mg per day all the time. If you are at a higher risk for giving birth to a child with spina bifida, you may be required to take a higher dose of folic acid. Talk to your doctor.
Since 1998, certain foods in Canada have been fortified with folic acid. This fortification of commercial food provides about 0.1 mg a day in the average diet, enough to reduce neural tube defects but not enough to provide the maximum protection possible. If a woman is thinking of getting pregnant, she should immediately start taking 0.4 mg daily. Folic acid is the most important of all vitamins for a healthy pregnancy.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Spina-Bifida