Spina Bifida is the number one disabling birth defect in the world.
Approximately 30 percent of the general population in the United States has some form of spina bifida.
One in every 1000 babies are born with spina bifida.
In western Pennsylvania, approximately 1000 people have spina bifida.
Spina Bifida is more prevalent in those of Irish and northern European ancestry.
The cause of Spina bifida is still unknown, although a combination of genetic and environmental factors are suspected.
The disease occurs in the fetus during the first month after conception.
The most obvious sign of spina bifida is a small cyst of fluid and nerves on the back of the baby at birth.
The cyst often results in some form of paralysis of the lower body and bowel. Bladder incontinence may also result.
One of the side effects of spina bifida is short stature. Allegheny physicians have discovered that the monitored use of growth hormone is an effective treatment for this condition.
Many people with spina bifida have subtle learning disabilities, even though their IQ scores are normal.
Hydrocephalus is a condition caused by an abnormal accumulation of fluid in cavities in the brain and usually accompanies spina bifida.
Until the 1950s, patients with hydrocephalus rarely survived. The advent of new infection fighting drugs has greatly increased survival.
Today, 80-90 percent of people born with spina bifida survive and live full, productive lives.
By Robert F. McKellar