Spina bifida

Split spine

Spina bifida is a birth defect which can lead to a number of problems, including lower-limb paralysis

What is spina bifida?

Spina bifida happens when a baby's spine doesn't develop properly in the womb, leaving a gap in their spine. There isn't a precise reason behind it but it can cause bowel and bladder problems in later life. In some severe cases, it can lead to mobility issues and paralysis. We can help to support your child.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of spina bifida? icon plus

    The severity of symptoms of spina bifida will depend on the location of the gap in the spine. If the gap is higher up, it's more likely to lead to leg paralysis and mobility issues. A gap in the middle may only cause bladder and bowel issues, like incontinence.

    Sometimes, babies with spina bifida can develop hydrocephalus (excess fluid on the drain). Hydrocephalus can cause damage to the brain and lead to developmental problems, such as difficulty reading and a short attention span.
  • Diagnosing spina bifida icon plus

    Spina bifida is a birth defect. It's normally picked up on during a mid-pregnancy anomaly scan, which happens between the 18th and 21st weeks of pregnancy. If spina bifida is confirmed, your GP or consultant will explain what this may mean for you and your baby.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Your consultant will discuss your baby's treatment options with you. This might include surgery soon after birth to close the gap in the spine.

    Unfortunately, the condition will have already damaged the nervous system, which can lead to other problems. If your baby's condition is likely to lead to developmental, physical and/or mobility problems, your consultant may also suggest therapies like physiotherapy and occupational therapy. These can help your child to lead a fulfilling and independent life.

    For other problems caused by spina bifida, like bowel or urinary problems, they may suggest other treatment options, from medicine to surgery.

Our spina bifida consultants

We're proud to work with leading orthopaedic and neurosurgical experts, who specialise in treating children with spina bifida, and whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our locations

From complex spinal surgery to diagnostic tests and procedures, we provide exceptional spinal care for children across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Request an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

Call us today

020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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