Today is the International Day of Spina Bifida, a congenital malformation that affects the complete formation of the vertebrae or spinal cord. spina bifida infantile is the most common neural tube defects, adjacent to anencephalus, incomplete formation of the brain, and hydrocephalus, excess fluid in the brain. All of them provoke various neurological problems.
already knew that studies and ultrasounds allow to advance the diagnosis of spina bifida in infants, in order to perform an intrauterine operation that guarantees a higher quality of life in children born with this problem. These advances and others that are taking place in medicine are what we want to highlight on a day like today.
Advances in the early diagnosis of spina bifida infantile
Several studies confirm that it is already possible to detect spina bifida infantile, in the first trimester of pregnancy, thanks to the analysis of new parameters in ultrasound. It is currently usually detected from week 17 onwards. This congenital malformation occurs in nine out of every 10,000 pregnancies.
Merck’s Consumer Health division in Berlin has analyzed 15,000 women and 16,000 fetuses. This is a prospective, multicenter IT study of intracranial translucency, in which the benefits of measuring ultrasound parameters related to the back of the brain of the fetus have been investigated for the first time in the first trimester ultrasound. This can lead to the detection of spina bifida cases from the 11th and 13th weeks of pregnancy, rather than on week 17.
This research project has been published in the Journal of Ultrasound. Now doctors and professional associations around the world need to evaluate the results and apply them to improve clinical practice.
Early and intrauterine intervention in infants with spina bifida
Because spina bifida can be detected during pregnancy, babies born with this neural tube defect may receive immediate attention. Early intervention is very important, and this is usually practiced within 24 hours of their birth. The operation consists in surgically releasing the spinal cord. Sometimes the success of the operation, does not prevent paralysis and insensitivity of the baby’s legs. But it does prevent additional nerve damage from infection or trauma.
Intrauterine operations are those performed with the baby inside the mother’s womb. This type of intervention has become an important ray of hope for families diagnosed with spina bifida infantile. Intrauterine operations are performed between the 18th and 30th week of gestation.
The most “common” operations is when hidden spina bifida has been diagnosed, which usually does not require any treatment. Meningocele, which does not include the spinal cord is surgically replaced, then there is usually no paralysis, and in general, these babies develop normally.
Advances in research and various studies
In different university and hospital departments, studies are conducted to detect spina bifida malformation as soon as possible and to repair it as far as possible. In addition , genetic, neurological and environmental variables that influence neurobehavioral outcomes of children with spina bifida are investigated ; the effects of spina bifida on physical and cognitive development during early childhood are evaluated.
Especially much work is being done, with positive results, surgery in utero to repair myelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida. Surgery has reduced the presence of mesencephalic hernia by a third. The number of children who can walk independently has doubled.
These research programs are complemented by other research focusing on embryonic development patterns and prenatal nutritional status. In this regard, we would like to recall that today 21 November International Spina Bifida Day is a day to raise awareness among pregnant women that this malformation is relatively easy to prevent: you have to consume a good dose of folic acid and maintain this habit during pregnancy.