Understanding spina bifida

Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly. It's a type of neural tube defect (NTD). The neural tube is the structure in a developing embryo that eventually becomes the baby's brain, spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them. 

Facts about spina bifida   

Spina bifida might cause physical and intellectual disabilities that range from mild to severe. The severity depends on: 

  • the size and location of the opening in the spine. 

  • whether part of the spinal cord and nerves are affected. 

Spina bifida is one of the most common birth defects in Australia, with around 150 babies are born with spina bifida each year. 

NTDs occur in the first weeks of pregnancy while the brain and spinal cord are forming. Treatment of individuals who have spina bifida includes surgery, medication and physiotherapy. There is no cure for spina bifida as the nerve tissue cannot be replaced or repaired. 

What are the symptoms of Spina Bifida?

The symptoms of spina bifida vary from person to person, but can cause:  

  • leg weakness 

  • loss of feeling in parts of the skin 

  • bladder or bowel incontinence 

  • learning difficulties 

Closed neural tube defects are often recognized early in life due to an abnormal tuft or clump of hair or a small dimple or birthmark on the skin at the site of the spinal malformation. 

How can CPL help?

No matter where you are on your journey, we are ready to help you achieve your goals. Our services aim to support people to reach their full potential through:  

For more information about how we can support you with spina bifida, visit our services page, call us on 1800 275 753 or send an online enquiry