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Pediatric Spina Bifida

Key points about spina bifida in children

  • 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.
Children's Team

Children's Team


Hans Pohl

Hans Pohl

Division Chief, Urology
Co-director, Spina Bifida Program
Syed Ahmed

Syed Ahmed

Orthopaedic Surgeon
Hip, Sports, Trauma and Deformity Specialist
kaitlin dunn np

Kaitlin Dunn

Advanced Practice Provider Team Lead, Urology
Nurse Practitioner
Nadia Kalloo

Naida Kalloo

Medical Unit Director, Prince George's County
Shannon McClure-Kelly

Shannon Kelly

Associate Chief, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
Spine, Cerebral Palsy and Orthopaedic Trauma Specialist
Matthew Oetgen

Matthew Oetgen

Division Chief, Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
Spine, Hip and Orthopaedic Trauma Specialist
Mi Ran Shin

Mi Ran Shin

Associate Fellowship Program Director, Rehabilitation Medicine
Pediatric Rehabilitation Specialist
Sean Tabaie

Sean Tabaie

Medical Director, Motion Capture Lab
Orthopaedic Surgeon
Cerebral Palsy, Limb Lengthening and Deformity and Orthopaedic Trauma Specialist
Laura Tosi

Laura Tosi

Director, Bone Health Program
Orthopaedic Surgeon
Rare Bone Disease, Bone Health and Orthopaedic Trauma Specialist


Spina Bifida Program

The Spina Bifida Program at Children’s National Hospital 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. 

Comprehensive Motility Program

The Motility Program works to help treat a number of motility issues impacting your child’s digestive tract, including abdominal pain, aspirating, constipation and incontinence. Learn more about our Comprehensive Motility Program.


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


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


At Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., our pediatric urologists provide comprehensive care for disorders affecting reproductive and urinary organs.

Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine

From sprains and strains to complex congenital conditions, Children’s National Hospital 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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Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you.

Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you. Make it happen

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Dr. Oetgen and Jared

Jared was just shy of 6 years old when he fell off his bike and broke his femur in the summer of 2015.

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