Spina Bifida Prognosis

Medical research has improved for people with spina bifida in the past few years and medical technology has improved the prognosis for them to experience a longer life expectancy than in the past. Depending on the severity of their ailments as well as any other complications they may have suffered, it is not unusual for those with spina bifida to live well into adulthood. Available treatment options also make it more likely they can live productive lives much longer than those with the ailment in the past few years.

The prognosis for those with spina bifida will depend largely on the type of illness they have. For example, those with spina bifida occulta will have few symptoms and a more positive prognosis than those with more severe types of the affliction. Even those with the most severe type of spina bifida will often suffer different levels of symptoms that will affect the overall prognosis on a patient-by-patient basis.

Some symptoms of spina bifida will indicate how the prognosis will affect the patient such as full paralysis. Other issues that have a negative effect will include incontinence, hydrocephalus and any nerve damage suffered from the beginning. The more mild the symptoms the patient exhibits the better the prognosis they can expect. With the wide range of symptoms and the many different degrees of severity it is difficult to develop a prognosis that will fit each person affected by spina bifida.

There will also be issues faced by adults with spina bifida that affect their prognosis. Some of the problems they may develop in later years that weren’t present when they were young will have a negative effect on their individual prognosis. Since many will have limited activity obesity is one thing that affects those with spina bifida. It can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.

Additionally, those who have been using braces or other orthopedic devices can develop joint problems that will affect their future. As they grow, adjustments will need to be made to the devices to ensure a good fit. If they have been fitted with a shunt for water on the brain, it can change position and lead to many other health problems.

Medications, physical therapy, possible surgery and experienced health care will help improve their quality of life and ensure a more positive prognosis. However, when younger it will be their parents and health care professionals that set the stage for their continued improvements as adults.


This video explores what families experience as they learn about treatment options and decide on the spina bifida treatment that’s right for them.

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