October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month.
As this month comes to an end, I want to make you aware of the relevance of prenatal care to prevent birth defects like spina bifida as much as you can.
I was diagnosed with spina bifida occulta at 30 years old. But of course, my mom never had the rigorous check ups I had after saying I had this condition.
What is Spina Bifida? In simple words, it is a split spine according to the Spina Bifida Association. There are different types of SB and some limitations come with them, although mine is Spina Bifida Occulta and this one is the least noticeable and you can live a complete normal life having it. Some people never learn that they have it, until they get a spinal x-ray for other concerns and find out (my case exactly).
Can parents know in advance if their baby has it? Yes. There are three tests that can identify if a fetus has the condition.
- The Alfa-Fetoprotein Screening Test
- An ultrasound
- An amniocentesis (taking womb fluid)
What can you do to prevent this type of birth defect? Take Folic Acid in your diet or supplements. I personally took Folic Acid supplements way before planning conception and during pregnancy. My OB/Gyn also prescribed me a higher dosage, to protect my baby during the first three months of pregnancy. What does FA do for your baby? It promotes healthy growth and development.
I had the AFP test, and a special ultrasound at 20 weeks pregnant and then at 36 weeks to check on my baby’s full development and they came out normal (I thank God for it everyday). Should I hadn’t found out that I had Spina Bifida Occulta, I wouldn’t have had taken the proper prevention measures to protect my baby from this condition. Even though genetics could be a determining factor in having SB, also the environment in which a baby is developing contributes. You can study this subject furthermore at http://spinabifidaassociation.org .
Prenatal care is vital to make sure you and your baby have the best treatment available for this or any possible conditions and risk factors. Also, having knowledge of our pre existent health conditions help us in protecting our children’s health as much as possible.
If you know a mom to be, please share this and learn more in order for other mommys to have a healthy expecting journey.