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Spina Bifida

Key Points about Spina Bifida

  • Spina bifida is a type of birth defect called a neural tube defect. It can cause part of the spinal cord and areas around it to form outside of the body.
  • Symptoms can include an area on the back that looks abnormal. This may be a small hairy patch, dimple, birthmark or a pouch-like bulge (sac).
  • You may need tests while you are pregnant to check for spina bifida in your growing baby.
  • If your child is born with spina bifida, your health care provider may also advise genetic counseling. You can discuss with a counselor the risk for a neural tube defect in a future pregnancy.
  • Your child may need surgery to close the defect. Surgery can help manage the problems. But it can’t restore muscle function or feeling to normal.
  • Spina bifida is a lifelong condition that has no cure. Your child’s health care providers will work to prevent deformities or keep them to a minimum. They will also work to help your child make the most of his or her abilities.
  • What is spina bifida?
  • What causes spina bifida?
  • Which children are at risk for spina bifida?
  • What are the symptoms of spina bifida?
  • How is spina bifida diagnosed?
  • How is spina bifida treated?
  • What are the possible complications of spina bifida?
  • How can I help prevent spina bifida?
  • How can I help my child live with spina bifida?
  • When should I call my child’s health care provider?
Children's Team

Children's Team

Providers

Ben Martin

Benjamin Martin

Associate Chief, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
Matthew Oetgen

Matthew Oetgen

Division Chief, Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
Laura Tosi

Laura Tosi

Director, Bone Health Program
Orthopaedic Surgeon
Departments

Departments

Fetal Medicine Institute

The Fetal Medicine Institute at Children’s National in Washington, D.C., provides specialized care for babies during pregnancy, delivery and after birth.

Spina Bifida Program

The Spina Bifida Program at Children’s National Health System is a leader in caring for infants, children and young adults with deformities and abnormalities of the spine and spinal cord. 

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

The Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation treats and monitors infants, children and teens at all stages of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative care. 

Neurosurgery

Our neurosurgery experts provide advanced care for newborns and children with complex neurological conditions.

Neurology

Our pediatric neuroscience team is the largest in the country, allowing us to offer our vast experience to patients and families.

Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine

From sprains and strains to complex congenital, Children’s National offers one of the most experienced pediatric orthopaedic practices in the nation with experience in treating all areas from head to toe.

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