Introduction to the disabilities

Spina bifida affects babies very early in pregnancy, when the spine and brain are being formed. It is a fault in the development of the spine, which exposes the spinal cord and nerves.

This often results in paralysis below the level of the impairment,
together with sensory loss. Walking may be difficult or impossible.

Hydrocephalus happens when the fluid in the brain cannot drain away into the bloodstream because the normal pathways are blocked.

The excess pressure has to be relieved quickly to minimise damage to the brain. New drainage pathways are opened, either by inserting a fine tube (called a shunt) inside a space in thebrain or by making a small hole in the floor of one of these spaces (called a ventriculostomy). Both treatments involve anoperation.

Many people with spina bifida also have hydrocephalus, but it can occur by itself – after meningitis, a head injury, stroke, or in babies born prematurely.

Prevention

The vitamin, folic acid, helps prevent spina bifida in pregnancy. Women should take a 400 microgram dose daily – from when they stop contraception until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. 400 microgram tablets can be bought over the counter in pharmacies and health food shops.

Women whe have already had a spina bifida pregnancy, or know someone in the family who has had spina bifida, should take higher-dose folic acid – but the higher dose is only available on prescription.


Information Courtesy of:
Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus

Help
For advice and information about any aspect of spna bifida and
hydrocephalus, please contact:

ASBAH
National Centre
42 Park Road
Peterborough
PE1 2UQ
Tel: 01733 555988
Fax: 01733 555985
Email: info@asbah.org

For Further information visit the website:
www.asbah.org

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