Spina Bifida

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About one baby in 1,000 is born with spina bifida (SPY-nuh BIF-ih-duh), a congenital defect resulting from the failure of one or more vertebrae to form a complete vertebral arch for enclosure of the spinal cord. This is especially common in the lumbosacral region. One form, spina bifida occulta,6 involves only one to a few vertebrae and causes no functional problems. Its only external sign is a dimple or hairy pigmented spot. Spina bifida cystica7 is more serious. A sac protrudes from the spine and may contain meninges, cerebrospinal fluid, and parts of the spinal cord and nerve roots (fig. 13.3). In extreme cases, inferior spinal cord function is absent, causing lack of bowel control and paralysis of the lower limbs and urinary bladder. The last of these conditions can lead to chronic urinary infections and renal failure. Pregnant women can significantly reduce the risk of spina bifida by taking supplemental folic acid (a B vitamin) during early pregnancy. Good sources of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, black beans, lentils, and enriched bread and pasta.

6bifid = divided, forked + occult = hidden

7 cyst = sac, bladder

Saladin: Anatomy & Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function, Third Edition

13. The Spinal Cord, Spinal Nerves, and Somatic Reflexes


© The McGraw-H Companies, 2003

Chapter 13 The Spinal Cord, Spinal Nerves, and Somatic Reflexes 485

Chapter 13 The Spinal Cord, Spinal Nerves, and Somatic Reflexes 485

Structure Spina Bifida

Figure 13.3 Spina Bifida Cystica.

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