What Is Spina Bifida and How Is It Caused?

What Is Spina Bifida and How Is It Caused?

Approximately 200 to 400 babies are born with spina bifida in Canada. That means that 2 to 4 babies are born each day with this life-altering condition.

What is spina bifida?

Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs in the third and fourth weeks of pregnancy; it is one of the most common birth defects in Canada and it causes permanent disabilities. The disability occurs when a part of the fetal spinal cord fails to close properly; then, the child is born with a portion of the spine exposed on their back.

The type and symptoms of spina bifida can vary from individual to individual since it depends on the size and location of the openings in their spine. Symptoms can range from having no disabilities on one end, to having paralysis on the other. Then, there are those on the in-between spectrum who have movement and function limitations. The good news is that with proper treatment, those with spina bifida are able to live full lives.

3 Most Common Types of Spina Bifida

There are three forms of spina bifida:

Occulta

This is the least harmful type of spina bifida, as it is usually symptomless. Occulta spina bifida means that there is only a small gap in one or more vertebrae in the spine. The spinal cord and nerves are usually able to function normally and most children affected have no disabilities.

Meningocele

Meningocele spina bifida is the rarest form and can cause minor disabilities. This condition consists of a cyst or lump of membranes surrounding the spinal cord that pokes through an open part of the spine. This cyst can vary in size and can be removed by surgery, which allows for the normal development of the child.

Myelomeningocele

This type of spina bifida is the most common, as well as the most severe, as it causes moderate to severe disabilities. Up to 90 percent of children with this type of spina bifida will have hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain. Babies affected will be at a high risk of infection until the back is surgically closed. Even after surgery, there is risk of leg paralysis, and bladder and bowel control problems. This type of spina bifida occurs when there is an opening in the backbone and the sac of fluid containing part of the fetal spinal cord and nerves push through the opening, thus damaging both the tissues and the nerves.

How is spina bifida caused?

Spina bifida is known as a neural tube defect, meaning that it affects the structures that will eventually turn into the baby’s brain, spinal cord, and surrounding tissues. It can occur because of both genetic and environmental factors.

The rate of spina bifida cases has decreased recently, as more and more expecting mothers take part in preventative measures before and during the pregnancy, as well as undergo prenatal testing.

In terms of genetics, spina bifida can happen more often in families who are predisposed to birth defects, in particular trisomy 1B. Genetic screening can help you determine the risks and preventative measures.

Environmentally, spina bifida can be caused by various conditions during the pregnancy, such as:

  • Taking certain medications;
  • Diabetes, including Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes;
  • Obesity; and
  • Folic acid deficiency.

Can spina bifida be prevented?

As much as 60 percent of all cases of spina bifida can be prevented if the mother had proper amounts of folic acid everyday prior to and during early pregnancy, which is before the neural structures close in the developing fetus. Women who have already had a baby with spina bifida or another neural tube disorder should do so in particular, as well as those with spina bifida, seizures, or diabetes disorders. It will be important to consult with their healthcare provider before another pregnancy to make sure that they are taking the right amount of folic acid.

There is no cure for spina bifida, and once a baby’s nerves are damaged, it cannot be regenerated. The most important prevention of spina bifida is detecting it before birth. When doctors detect spina bifida early, they can take immediate action to prevent infection and further damage to the fetal spine. In some clinics, they are able to conduct corrective surgery in-utero to prevent most, or all, problems associated with spina bifida.

The early detection of spina bifida is quite simple. We are able to see it on ultrasounds, so any properly trained ultrasound technician, radiologist, or obstetrician should be able to identify it and notify the mother’s doctor. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and spina bifida can go undetected or it might not be mentioned until the birth of the baby. This grave mistake and negligence can lead to years of suffering and costly medical care.

Can you get compensation for your child’s spina bifida?

Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are obligated to provide their patients with proper care. Diagnosing spina bifida early is crucial for the baby’s future development and well-being. If a doctor or other health professional fails to diagnose the condition or they fail to properly communicate the condition to you, then the doctor might have committed medical malpractice.

If you think that your child’s spina bifida was overlooked by doctors prior to, during, or after birth, then you might have grounds for a medical negligence lawsuit that could give you financial compensation for yourself and your family.

Consult Expert Spina Bifida Lawyers in Canada Today

Our expert team of lawyers at Sommers Roth & Elmaleh have helped hundreds of Canadian patients win their medical malpractice lawsuits for decades. We have fought and won a substantial number of serious medical litigation cases, including spina bifida cases.

For more information about spina bifida, call Sommers Roth & Elmaleh at 1-844-777-7372 or contact us here.

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The information on this page is provided for general information purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice. It does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Readers should seek specific legal advice regarding any specific legal issues. We do not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or quality of the information on this page. The posts on this page are current as of their original date of publication, but they should not be relied upon as timely, accurate or fit for any particular purpose.

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    Dear Mr Hilik Y. And Jeremy Syrtash. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to you and Sommers Roth and Elmaleh Professional Corporation staff for all you have done with respect to my wife case. My wife was a victim of Medical Malpractice after giving birth to our daughter. She become legally disabled both physically and mentally. The entire family devastated emotionally as my wife struggle to cope with the new reality. The case of Medical Malpractice is quite often a complex case to prove. However, due to your strong commitment, knowledge and dedication combined with strong professionalism the case was successfully won after a long arduous fight. The victory would not have been possible without your dedication and thorough research in the implementation of the standards of the Sommers Roth and Elmaleh Professional Corporation. Justice prevailed at last which in turn allowed my vulnerable wife to feel more optimistic about her future and that of our family. The positive outcome of this case has changed our lives forever. It would not have been possible without the excellent representation of Sommers Roth and Elmaleh Professional Corporation and its legal counsel. My wife and I will be deeply grateful for the successful outcome of this case for many years to come. Solomon Regassa
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    I would like to take this opportunity to express my most sincere gratitude towards Sommers Roth & Elmaleh, from the day I met with Hilik and his team, they been not only highly knowledgeable but also extremely sensitive towards me and my family, providing us with the best legal service possible. It goes without saying, that I strongly recommend them to anyone looking for a charismatic, quality and result oriented legal team.
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    We deeply appreciate Sommers Roth & Elmaleh for their professional skills and hard-working through the whole process of my son’s case. I still remember the first conversation we took with Mr. Hilik Y Elmaleh in his lawyer office sixteen years ago. From then on, your dedication, patience, understanding and continuous communications kept our encouragements and expectations for my son and our family. With the case settled down, my son can receive the full financial support, continuous therapies and finishing his university course. It is no doubt to say that Sommers Roth & Elmaleh not only changed our family’s life but also did contributions to the society, because my son can grow in a happy and health way in his teenage and receive university education from this autumn. Again we hereby strongly recommend the services provided by the lawyer office Sommers Roth & Elmaleh to those who needs the similar legal consultation and support. Even the door of your family was closed by some unfortunate events, there are more windows can be opened. The lawyers in Sommers Roth & Elmaleh are exactly the people who can open the windows and convert the sun-shine again to your family: Mr. Hilik Y Elmaleh,Mr.Jeremy Syrtash, Miss Fanny Peter ...etc. Finally, we express the deepest gratitude and appreciation again to Mr. Hilik Y Elmaleh and lawyer office Sommers Roth & Elmaleh. Wish a brighter future of Sommers Roth & Elmaleh !
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    I am so glad that my son's CP medical case was completely successful. I appreciate lawyer Hilik Elmaleh, Jeremy Syrtash, Fanny Peter and their team's hard work. They are so knowledgeable, responsible and reliable. Thanks is not enough to express my gratitude. Mr. Hilik Elmaleh deserves "The Best Lawyer in Canada" award.
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    I would like to extend my gratitude towards Mr. Hilik Elmaleh, Jermey Syntash, and Fanny Peter for their dedication, time, effort, and knowledge invested into my case. This is honestly the best team of lawyers in Canada. I would highly recommend them for any of your cases.
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    I would like to take this opportunity to thank our daughter's "Dream Team", Hilik Elmaleh, Jeremy Syrtash and Fanny Peter. The compassion, dedication, knowledge, experience and their recognition in the legal community have ensured us that we were on the right track working with the firm Sommers, Roth and Elmaleh. Words cannot express enough my gratitude! I will be forever grateful!
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    Thank you does not begin to express the depth of gratitude I have for Sommers Roth & Elmaleh Professional Corporation. From the first day I sat in Hilik's office, not once did I feel apprehensive. My concerns and worries were put at ease due to the kindness and compassion of Hilik, Jeremy and Fanny and their relentless persistence to secure my daughter's future. This has been a long but successful endeavor during some difficult times and through it all, the Team has been resilient, informative and were always available. I highly recommend this dedicated and professional law firm and I will be forever in their debt.
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    I was in a serious horse accident where the horse was injured and should never have been ridden. The owner of the horse was aware that the horse had chronic arthritis issues and the veterinarians at Guelph had told him the horse could decompensate at any time and could cause serious injury whether being led or ridden and could never be jumped again. The horse had been shown at the grand prix level and the owner had payed quite a bit of money for him. After consulting with several lawyers and having one that did represent me at the discoveries who later quit, Jeremy Syrtash took on the case and followed through with guelph university. That is how we found out that the vets had recommended the above. Without Jeremy's efforts and follow through the case would never have continued on. Because of these efforts the case was successful. Thank you so much Jeremy. You are a dedicated, thorough, excellent lawyer and it's been a pleasure to have you as my lawyer!!
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    We want to start by saying how much we highly recommend Sommers, Roth and Elmaleh for anyone who is dealing with a situation involving medical malpractice. Hilik and the entire firm have allowed us the opportunity to give our little girl the life she deserves. There is no taking back what happened, but they truly turned such a tragedy into a victory. They fought long and hard, and put forth so much time and effort into making the individuals accountable and responsible for the mistakes that were made. They always showed true compassion for our family, guided us with ease, and supported us through every step. This was such a life changing experience with the firm, and honestly we will always be forever grateful and thankful.