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Overview of Spina Bifida in Infants

Parents in North Carolina should know that infants can suffer from a birth defect known as spina bifida. It is the failure of the vertebrae to enclose the raw nerves of the spinal column. The condition can occur anywhere in the spine; although, it is most common in the lower back.

There are several types of spina bifida. One of them is meningocele, which is a protrusion of the meninges (the membrane covering the spine) because of a gap produced in the spine. Myelomeningocele is perhaps the most serious kind; parts of the spinal column come out through the back, often appearing in the form of a flesh-covered sac. It is often accompanied by hydrocephalus, where cerebrospinal fluid builds up in the brain.

The most common form is spina bifida occulta, which affects one or more vertebrae without any apparent damage to the spinal cord. Roughly 40% of those with spina bifida occulta do not even know they have it.

Mild symptoms include dimples, birthmarks and hairy spots on the affected part of the back. Raw and exposed nerves are just one of the more severe symptoms. The child may also experience paralysis, numbness or weakness in the affected limbs. In the long term, the child may develop learning disabilities and cognitive disabilities, such as trouble concentrating, doing math or using language.

While doctors can't prevent spina bifida, they can reduce the risk of children developing it by having expectant mothers take folic acid. They can also check the health of the spine and monitor the condition if it appears. For a birth injury malpractice case to be successful, there generally must be clear proof that a doctor's negligence led to the condition. A lawyer's network of investigators may help show this.


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