(rachischisis) a developmental defect in which the newborn baby has part of the spinal cord and its coverings exposed through a gap in the backbone. The symptoms may include paralysis of the legs, incontinence, and learning disabilities from the commonly associated brain defect, hydrocephalus. Spina bifida is associated with an abnormally high level of alpha-fetoprotein in the amniotic fluid surrounding the embryo. The condition can be diagnosed at about the 16th week of pregnancy by a maternal blood test and confirmed by amniocentesis and ultrasound. The risk of spina bifida is reduced if supplements of folic acid are taken by women while trying to conceive and during the first three months of pregnancy. See also neural tube defects.
http://www.asbah.org/ Website of the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus
Subjects: Medicine and Health.