Spina Bifida Occulta (SPO) is considered the least detrimental of the Spina bifida disorders, and is estimated to affect 10-20% of the population, so clearly many people have the disorder and do not know. The children from China or other countries who have no symptoms would not be classified as having special needs. However, there are types of SPO that do have symptoms.
These are the main categories of Spina Bifida Occulta
- Thickened filum terminal: The spinal cord is too thick.
- Fatty filum terminale: There is fatty tissue at end of the spinal cord.
- Diastematomyelia (split spinal cord) and diplomyelia: The spinal cord is split in two and this split is often caused by a piece of bone.
- Dermal sinus tract: The spinal cord and the skin on the back are connected by what looks like a band of tissue.
- Tethered spinal cord in which the end of spinal cord is attached in the wrong way and, therefore, becomes stretched
- Dipomyelomeningocele and lipomeningocele where the spinal cord is attached to a fatty tumor  Continue reading
Welcome to the first in a 6-part series on Spina Bifida. In the following posts we will discuss each of the types of Spina Bifida (SB); making the decision to adopt a child with SB; and the treatment and prognosis for these children.
SB is a condition that occurs during the first month of fetal development in which the bones on the child’s back, called the vertebrae, do not fully enclose over the spinal cord. It can be very mild and never noticed or it can be very severe, causing a child to have paraplegia or quadriplegia. It is a neural tube defect, and here in the US, with more women taking folic acid before conceiving and during pregnancy, the incidence of SB has decreased significantly.
In the US, the condition is most common among Whites and least common among Asians. However, in China there are reportedly 200 infants born with SB for every 10,000 births (see footnote); in the US, the incidence is 5-10 for every 10,000 births. Certainly, SB is represented among the more than one million Chinese children born each year with special needs.
There may be a genetic component to SB as well as environmental factors that contribute to the condition. Continue reading