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Graphic of Spina Bifida Awareness Week. A baby that is getting its spine scanned at 10 weeks.

Spina Bifida Awareness Week:

What is it? and how we can screen for it?

18. October 2023

This week is Spina Bifida Awareness Week, a time to shine a light on this important condition. We look at what Spina Bifida is, how it can be detected and charities that spread awareness about it.

Comprehensive Screening:  

From the 16th to the 22nd of October, we shine a light on Spina Bifida Awareness Week. But first, let’s break it down. What exactly is spina bifida? It’s a condition where the spine doesn’t fully develop in the womb. It occurs when the spine and spinal cord fail to develop properly in the womb, resulting in a gap in the spine. This incomplete development can lead to both physical and intellectual challenges.

A surprising fact? As many as 10% of people might have a milder form of spina bifida. Most aren’t even aware of it. On the more severe end of the spectrum, open spina bifida impacts about 700 babies in the UK every year.

Now, here’s the uplifting part. Taking folic acid during the early stages of pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of a baby developing spina bifida. However, many women still don’t know about this simple preventative measure. It’s essential for healthcare providers to share this knowledge.

Early Detection Makes a Difference! 

At our clinic, we’re proud to offer a specialised Ten-week Anomaly Scan. This scan is designed to detect signs of spina bifida at a very early stage. By identifying it early, families can make informed decisions and medical professionals can provide the best care options. Early detection can dramatically improve outcomes for affected pregnancies. Surgeons from UCLH and GOSH carried out the first procedure on babies in the womb in the UK back in 2018. This international team received their training at UZ Leuven1

While many might be more familiar with conditions like Down Syndrome, it’s vital to bring spina bifida to the forefront as well. Its prevalence is notable, and with the right measures like early detection and folic acid intake, we can make a difference.

Join Our Mission in Boosting Awareness: 

Knowledge is power. By understanding spina bifida, its risks, and the preventive steps, we can safeguard future generations. Let’s raise the bar of awareness together by educating ourselves and supporting charities like Shine. 

Shine Charity is a UK-based charity that supports people with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. The charity’s vision is a society where all those affected by spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus are empowered and enabled. Shine’s mission is to make a positive difference to the lives of people affected by these conditions.

Shine’s goals for 2022-2027 include:

  • Enabling babies and children with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus to achieve their potential
  • Empowering young people with these conditions
  • Ensuring that adults with these conditions have the choices and opportunities to live healthy and independent lives

Watch the explainer video on the 10 week scan:

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