6 doctors weighed in:

What causes spina bifida? Is spina bifida caused by a spinal cord injury, or a chromosomal disorder?

6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Geoffrey Rutledge
Internal Medicine
3 doctors agree

In brief: Spina

Spina bifida is not an injury.
It is a birth defect caused by failure of the nervous system to fully develop. When the embryo is forming, the nervous system starts out as a "neural tube" that is supposed to grow in a very specific way. If it does not, you are left with "neural tube defects" like spina bifida. There is nothing we know of that causes it for sure, but certain things make it more likely. It is more common with children that have trisomy 13, 18, or 21, but that is just an association, not a cause. They are very common, and the only thing we know of that might help prevent them is for the mother to take folate (folic acid). The hard part about that is the mother has to take folate (folic acid) very early in the pregnancy, often before she even knows she is pregnant. That is why the all women of child-bearing age are advised to take at least 0.4 mg of Folic Acid every day.

In brief: Spina

Spina bifida is not an injury.
It is a birth defect caused by failure of the nervous system to fully develop. When the embryo is forming, the nervous system starts out as a "neural tube" that is supposed to grow in a very specific way. If it does not, you are left with "neural tube defects" like spina bifida. There is nothing we know of that causes it for sure, but certain things make it more likely. It is more common with children that have trisomy 13, 18, or 21, but that is just an association, not a cause. They are very common, and the only thing we know of that might help prevent them is for the mother to take folate (folic acid). The hard part about that is the mother has to take folate (folic acid) very early in the pregnancy, often before she even knows she is pregnant. That is why the all women of child-bearing age are advised to take at least 0.4 mg of Folic Acid every day.
Dr. Geoffrey Rutledge
Dr. Geoffrey Rutledge
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Dr. Richard Pollard
Anesthesiology

In brief: No one knows

There seems to be an interplay of genetic and environmental factors that cause this disease.
Women who have had one child with spina bifida, or who are obese or diabetic have an increased chance of having a child with the problem. It is known that taking Folic Acid during the fertile years decreases the chance of having this problem.

In brief: No one knows

There seems to be an interplay of genetic and environmental factors that cause this disease.
Women who have had one child with spina bifida, or who are obese or diabetic have an increased chance of having a child with the problem. It is known that taking Folic Acid during the fertile years decreases the chance of having this problem.
Dr. Richard Pollard
Dr. Richard Pollard
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Dr. Paul Webster
Pain Management

In brief: Congenital

Spina bifida is largely a congenital (born with it) disorder. Cause is not known.
Some vertebrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed and remain unfused and open. 2 forms - occulta (hidden, covered). But, if the opening is large enough, this allows a portion of the spinal cord to protrude through the opening in the bones.

In brief: Congenital

Spina bifida is largely a congenital (born with it) disorder. Cause is not known.
Some vertebrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed and remain unfused and open. 2 forms - occulta (hidden, covered). But, if the opening is large enough, this allows a portion of the spinal cord to protrude through the opening in the bones.
Dr. Paul Webster
Dr. Paul Webster
Thank
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