OCTOBER IS SPINA BIFIDA AWARENESS MONTH
HELP US RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT THE MOST COMMON, PERMANENTLY DISABLING BIRTH DEFECT IN THE UNITED STATES…
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Did you know that more people are born with Spina Bifida than cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis combined, yet most people are unfamiliar with this disability?
This month, is the perfect opportunity to learn about spina bifida, to spread awareness about spina bifida, and to support the organizations, like the SBAWP, that work to improve the quality of life for people living with spina bifida. The most effective strategy for raising awareness is to share information with others. Here are just a few facts to get you started…
Quick Facts on Spina Bifida in the United States:
- Each day, an average of 8 babies are born with Spina Bifida or a similar defect of the brain and spine. That is approximately 3,000 pregnancies each year.
- There are 65 million women at risk of having a baby born with Spina Bifida.
- An estimated 166,000 people currently live with Spina Bifida.
- Hispanic mothers are 1.5-2 times more likely to give birth to a child with Spina Bifida than any other ethnic group.
What is Spina Bifida?
Spina Bifida is the most common, permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. The neural tube defect (NTD), a group of serious conditions of the brain and spinal cord, affects one out of every 1,500 newborns in America. NTDs, like Spina Bifida, occur during the first month of pregnancy – before most women even know they are pregnant.
Living with Spina Bifida
The effects of Spina Bifida are different for every person and depend on the location of the lesion. It is a medically complex birth defect affecting the orthopedic, urologic and central nervous systems. Conditions may include paralysis of the legs, loss of bowel and bladder control, learning disabilities, depression, latex allergy, and social and sexual issues.
As recently as 45 years ago, most babies born with Spina Bifida died. It wasn’t until the late 1960s, early 1970s, that babies diagnosed with spina bifida started surviving past infancy. Thanks to new medical treatments and technology, today, 90% of infants born with Spina Bifida live – many go on to lead successful and productive lives. Although spina bifida comes with many challenges, the disability does not define who a person is or what they can do. A person with spina bifida can go to school, get a job, live independently, play sports, get married, and have children.
The exact cause of Spina Bifida is unknown. However, scientists believe a combination of genetics and environmental factors are involved. Daily consumption of the B-vitamin, folic acid, prior to and during pregnancy is shown to help reduce the occurrence of spina bifida and other NTDs. It is important for all women of childbearing age to take a vitamin with folic acid every