Spina Bifida is the most common neural defect in America. It is characterised by the incomplete formation of the spine and, in its most severe form, a person can suffer from partial or total paralysis below the area where the vertebrae are not formed properly.
Spina Bifida occurs during the early part of pregnancy and, depending on the condition, may require an operation to correct the spinal deformity shortly after birth. The incidence of spina bifida has been greatly reduced in recent years by adding folic acid to women’s diets.
Helping a Family to Cope with Spina Bifida
For parents who have a child with spina bifida, the initial diagnosis can be devastating. If an operation is needed there is the added worry of putting their newborn through such a procedure. Then there are the long term effects of the condition and what lies ahead in the future. Providing support during this time, whether that’s simple taking over some daily tasks or providing a shoulder to cry on, can be a huge help. Reassurance and positive thinking, helping your friends or family find solutions can go a long way to relieving symptoms of anxiety and even depression.
Helping a Child with Spina Bifida
While it might initially seem like the worst thing that can happen to you and your child, there is actually plenty of support out there that can guide you to a brighter future. The prognosis for spina bifida is not as poor as it was 30 or 40 years ago and many children with the condition lead happy and productive lives.
There will, of course, be challenges to overcome, especially as they grow older. What you should be aware of from the outside is that the condition is not going to define your child. They still have all the potential that most other children have and you shouldn’t be fearful of the challenges ahead.
Yes, they may have to cope with issues such as getting around in severe cases of the condition and working to become more and more independent. But they’ll also face the same opportunities as everyone else – going to school, learning new stuff, making friends, realising their potential, getting a job and one day getting married.
Getting Support from Other Parents
The biggest challenge any parents have is in the early years of their child’s life, not least the worry that they will naturally feel. Overcoming these things can be helped by doing your research and educating yourself as much as possible. You’ll find plenty of resources online and you’ll no doubt find that your worst fears are not going to be realised. Joining support groups for those with children who have spina bifida is a particularly good idea – you’ll get to meet and talk with people who have been through it before you, build friendships and have that safety net of a group that knows what you are having to deal with.