Spina bifida is a condition which affects about one in every 1000 children born per year in Ireland. Ireland has one of the highest incidences of spina bifida births in the world.
Spina bifida is the most common neural tube defect (NTD) which causes incomplete development of the spinal cord in the womb.
Translated, it literally means 'split spine'. The spine is made up of separate bones called vertebrae which normally cover and protect the spinal cord. With spina bifida, one or more of these vertebrae are not completely formed. Instead, they are split and the spinal cord and its coverings usually protrude through a sac-like bulge on the back, covered with a thin membrane.
There are three main types of spina bifida -