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Pediatric Spina Bifida

Key points about spina bifida in children

  • Spina bifida is a type of birth defect called a neural tube defect. It can cause part of the spinal cord and areas around it to form outside of the body.
  • Symptoms can include an area on the back that looks abnormal. This may be a small hairy patch, dimple, birthmark or a pouch-like bulge (sac).
  • You may need tests while you are pregnant to check for spina bifida in your growing baby.
  • If your child is born with spina bifida, your healthcare provider may also advise genetic counseling. You can discuss with a counselor the risk for a neural tube defect in a future pregnancy.
  • Your child may need surgery to close the defect. Surgery can help manage the problems. But it can’t restore muscle function or feeling to normal.
  • Spina bifida is a lifelong condition that has no cure. Your child’s healthcare providers will work to prevent deformities or keep them to a minimum. They will also work to help your child make the most of his or her abilities.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is spina bifida?

What causes spina bifida in children?

Which children are at risk for spina bifida?

What are the symptoms of spina bifida in children?

How is spina bifida in children diagnosed?

How is spina bifida treated in children?

What are the possible complications of spina bifida in children?

How can I help prevent spina bifida in children?

How can I help my child live with spina bifida?

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

Providers Who Treat Spina Bifida

    Departments that Treat Spina Bifida

    Children’s National orthopaedic surgeon Sean Tabaie, M.D., cares for pediatric patient in cast.

    Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine

    From sprains and strains to complex congenital conditions, Children's National Hospital offers one of the most experienced pediatric orthopaedic practices in the nation, with experience in treating all areas from head to toe.

    Baby crawling around on exam table smiling


    Our neurosurgery experts provide advanced care for newborns and children with complex neurological conditions.

    Girl in wheelchair speaks with medical professional

    Spina Bifida Program

    The Spina Bifida Program at Children's National Hospital is a leader in caring for infants, children and young adults with deformities and abnormalities of the spine and spinal cord.