Advantages of fetal surgery for spina bifida continues up to 10 years after birth, study finds

Alan Condon -   Print  |

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia researchers recently published new findings demonstrating that the benefits of fetal surgery to repair spina bifida continues through school-age children, reports EurekAlert!

Four things to know:

1. The National Institutes of Health study found that children who had fetal surgery to repair a common birth defect of the spine were more likely to walk independently and have fewer follow-up surgeries compared to those who had traditional corrective surgery.

2. Spina bifida prevents the spinal column from forming properly, leaving an area of the spinal cord and nerves exposed. It can lead to an inability to walk, a loss of bladder and bowel control and, in some cases, paralysis below the exposed area.

3. A 2011 CHOP study found that babies with spina bifida had better motor function and were able to walk better two and a half years after prenatal surgery, compared to babies operated on after birth.

4. In the follow-up study, CHOP researchers found these benefits to continue in children up to 10 years after birth. Patients who received prenatal surgery required fewer shunts, surgeries and catheterizations into childhood than those who underwent postnatal surgery and reported a better quality of life.

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