Wednesday, May 30, 2018 by Janine Acero
Myelomeningocoele is a complex congenital spinal anomaly that results in spinal cord malformation (myelodysplasia). It is caused by the incomplete development of the fetus’ backbone during the first month of pregnancy.
The disorder refers to a birth defect wherein the bones of the spine do not completely form. The spinal cord and meninges (the tissues covering the spinal cord) then stick out of the child’s back.
Infants born with myelomeningocele often have paralysis or weakness below the level of the spinal lesion. This affects the lower limbs and causes problems with bladder and bowel function.
Myelomeningocele is the most severe form of spina bifida, occurring nearly once for every 1,000 live births. Other names for myelomeningocoele are meningomyelocele and spina bifida cystica.
A newborn with myelomeningocele will have a fluid-filled sac on the mid to lower back.
Symptoms may include loss of bladder or bowel control; temporary or permanent lack of sensation or paralysis of the legs; and weakness of the hips, legs or feet. Other symptoms may include abnormal feet or legs, such as clubfoot; and fluid buildup inside the skull, such as hydrocephalus.
A child with meningomyelocele is also at risk of developing bacterial meningitis due to the exposed spinal cord.
Spina bifida may lead to some complications, including:
Folic acid supplements are recommended to pregnant women to prevent birth defects such as myelomeningocele. Any woman considering becoming pregnant is advised to take 0.4 mg of folic acid per day, while pregnant women need one mg/day.
Folic acid deficiencies must be corrected before becoming pregnant to avoid the early development of any birth defect.
The following foods can help you obtain your recommended amount of folic acid:
Prospective mothers may be screened to determine the amount of folic acid in their blood.
Take care of your spine with these simple guidelines:
The most recommended treatment is surgery within the first few days of life. Taking care of an infant with myelomeningocele may include special care and positioning in handling, feeding and bathing, to reduce the damage to the exposed spinal cord.
Antibiotics may be used to treat or prevent infections such as meningitis or UTI.
Most children will require lifelong treatment for problems that result from damage to the spinal cord and spinal nerves, such as bladder and bowel conditions and muscle and joint problems.
Follow-up exams generally continue throughout the child’s life to check the child’s developmental progress. These tests may also detect any intellectual, neurological, or physical problems caused by the disorder.
Myelomeningocoele refers to a birth defect that is caused by the incomplete development of the fetus’ spine during the first month of pregnancy. The spinal cord and meninges protrude from the child’s back, causing complications like partial or complete paralysis or weakness below the level of the spinal lesion (hips, legs, feet).
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