Spina Bifida occurs within the first four weeks of pregnancy before many women are even aware they are pregnant. For some unexplained reason, the central nervous system of the developing baby fails to form normally at some point along its length, anywhere from the brain to the end of the spinal canal. Spina Bifida actually means split spine. The bones surrounding the developing spinal cord do not close. Instead, they remain open, leaving a bubble-like deformity on the spine of the child. This results in varying degrees of permanent damage to the spinal column and the nervous system.
At a Glance
For more information about Spina Bifida, visit www.spinabifidaassociation.org.
The word hydrocephalus is from the Greek words hydro meaning water and cephalus means head. Cerebral spinal fluid is the substance that protects the brain and spinal cord. When a person has hydrocephalus, this fluid is not able to flow freely and will build up inside the head causing pressure on the brain. Although hydrocephalus is treatable, it is a chronic condition that often requires multiple surgeries, which can diminish quality of life. While hydrocephalus is diagnosed in people of all ages, it affects approximately 1 out of every 500 children. Additionally, 80-90 percent of children with spina bifida will develop it. Other causes include tumors, cysts, viral and bacterial infections, and premature births.
At a Glance
For more information about hydrocephalus, visit www.hydroassoc.org.