Spina Bifida - Complications

Did your child or loved one experience complications associated with spina bifida?

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver


* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!


I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the black triangle:

What are the complications of spina bifida?

Complications of spina bifida range from minor physical problems to severe physical and mental disabilities. It is important to note, however, that most people with spina bifida have normal intelligence. Children with myelomeningocele and/ or hydrocephalus (excess accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in and around the the brain) may have learning disabilities, including difficulty paying attention, problems with language and reading comprehension, and trouble learning math.

Spina bifida's impact is determined by the size and location of the malformation, whether it is covered by skin, and which spinal nerves are involved. All nerves located below the malformation are affected to some degree. Therefore, the higher the malformation occurs on the back, the greater the amount of nerve damage and loss of muscle function and sensation.

In addition to abnormal sensation and paralysis, another neurological complication associated with spina bifida is Chiari II malformation -- a condition common in children with myelomeningocele -- in which the brain stem and the cerebellum (hindbrain) protrude downward into the spinal canal or neck area. This condition can lead to compression of the spinal cord and cause a variety of symptoms, including difficulties with feeding, swallowing, breathing control, choking, and changes in upper extremity function (stiffness, swelling).

Chiari II malformation may also result in a blockage of cerebrospinal fluid, causing hydrocephalus. The buildup of fluid puts damaging pressure on the brain and spinal cord. Hydrocephalus is commonly treated by surgically implanting a shunt-a hollow tube -- in the brain to drain the excess fluid into the abdomen.

Some newborns with myelomeningocele may develop meningitis, an infection in the meninges. Meningitis may cause brain injury and can be life-threatening.

Additional problems such as latex allergies, skin integrity breakdown, gastrointestinal conditions, disorders of sleep regulation, and depression may occur as children with spina bifida get older.

Return to Spina Bifida and Anencephaly (Neural Tube Defects)

STAY INFORMED

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!