Spina Bifida
  • Accumulation of fluid in the brain (hydrocephalus)
  • Scoliosis
  • Latex allergy (from frequent surgeries early in life)
  • Inability to walk
    • Muscle weakness and paralysis of the lower extremities
    • Hip dislocation
    • Foot and ankle deformities
  • Many children with myelomeningocele are wheelchair bound

The chance of spina bifida can be assessed before birth. This process uses a blood test. It is called the maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) screening test. If the test predicts a high risk of neural tube defects two more tests will be done:

  • Amniocentesis—a needle is inserted into the uterine cavity. A sample of amniotic fluid is drawn out. Levels of MSAFP and other substances in the fluid are measured.
  • Ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to look at structures inside the body. In this case, the fetal spine is examined.

A diagnosis before birth can help you and your doctor make plans. A special delivery room will help lead to a quick surgery after birth. It can also give you some time before delivery to learn more about this condition and how to care for your child.
After birth, meningocele and myelomeningocele are usually apparent on physical exam. Many tests will be needed. They will help to determine the extent of internal deformities to the bones and nerves. The kidneys can also often become damaged. They will need to be watched closely.
Most children with occulta spina bifida will never be diagnosed. This condition rarely causes any symptoms. It also has few complications. It may be discovered during a routine medical exam. It may also be found following x-rays of the spine.


  • Occulta spina bifida requires no treatment
  • Meningocele spina bifida is treated with surgery to remove the cyst




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