The spinal abnormalities are most commonly seen in the lower half of the spine. The baby may have an enlarged head from hydroencephalus, which sometimes develops as a consequence of spina bifida. When the spinal cord or the nerve roots in the lower back are involved, varying degrees of paralysis may be present below the involved level, usually affecting bladder and bowel functions. Since spina bifida occurs in the fetus, many problems can be seen at birth, such as a clubfoot or dislocated hip. There may be other birth defects as well.
Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of spina bifida is not well understood. Genetics may have a large role, but nutritional and environmental factors could play a part. Getting enough folic acid during pregnancy may prevent spina bifida.