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Spina Bifida and the Family

  • By: Dalice L. Hertzberg
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Spina bifida (SB) is one of the most common seriously disabling birth defects and refers to the incomplete development of the spine and spinal cord. Neural tube defects (NTD), such as SB, occur in about 17 of every 100,000 live births and result when the brain and/or spinal cord fail to develop properly in utero. NTDs range from SB to anencephaly, which is the partial development of the brain. Infants born with anencephaly rarely survive beyond a few days.

The congenital spinal cord injury of SB affects many body systems, including bones and muscles, motor and sensory nerves, digestive and urinary tract, and skin. Hydrocephalus occurs in about 80% of children born with SB, due to a related central nervous system abnormality of the brain stem, ...

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