Spina bifida is a congenital condition (meaning it is present at birth) that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings. Nemours’ spina bifida experts are uniquely prepared to treat the medical challenges of the condition while giving children the tools they need to grow into active, independent adults.
The term spina bifida comes from Latin and literally means "split" or "open" spine. Though the cause is unknown, the spine’s failure to close properly happens during the first month of pregnancy.
A child born with spina bifida (also called myelomeningocele), or the related disorder lipomeningocele (when the “open” spine is covered over by an area of fatty tissue), often has some sort of damage to the nerves of the spinal cord. The extent of this damage can vary widely, but may include paralysis in the lower extremities and loss of bowel and bladder control. Children with spina bifida may also have hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain), and some may also experience attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or other learning difficulties.
- photo ID
- medical and pharmacy insurance cards
- preferred pharmacy name and phone number
- names and dosage of all medications, including over-the-counter medication, your child is currently taking
- guardianship and custody papers, if a legal guardian rather than a parent accompanies your child
- Patient Presents Without Legal Guardian (PDF)
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Note: A parent or legal guardian must be with a child for a first visit.
Resources for Patients & Families
Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children offers a comprehensive Spina Bifida Clinic that gives your child access to a team of medical specialists, including orthopedists, neurosurgeons and urologists.
The Nemours Difference
Because spina bifida can affect your child in many ways, you’ll have an entire team of Nemours specialists working with you across many departments, including:
- Orthopedic Surgery
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
- Therapy and Rehabilitation Services
- Behavioral Health
The team follows up with your primary care physician, school system, and other participants in your child’s care.
We continue to evaluate your child at regular intervals to identify current and potential treatment problems and correct them as quickly as possible.