NATIONAL SPINA BIFIDA AWARENESS MONTH
National Spina Bifida Awareness Month is an annual designation observed in October. Spina Bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. It takes place when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column doesn’t completely close. Every day in the United States, eight babies are born with Spina Bifida or a similar birth defect that affects the brain and spine, according to the Spina Bifida Association. There are three different kinds of Spina Bifida: Occult Spinal Dysraphism, Spina Bifida Occulta, and Meningocele. While there is no cure for Spina Bifida, there are several treatments that can help manage the impairment and prevent complications. Here are some risk factors to be aware of if you’re trying to conceive right now:
- Folate deficiency. Folate, or Vitamin B-9 (also called folic acid when in food) is very important to the healthy development of a baby. A deficiency in this increases the risk of Spina Bifida and other neural tube defects.
- Family history of neural tube defects. If you’ve had children with a neural tube defect before, or if someone in your immediate family has, the risk increases. However, a majority of babies born with Spina Bifida have no family history of the impairment.
- Certain medications. Many anti-seizure medications that are taken during pregnancy can cause neural tube defects because they interfere with the body’s ability to use folate and folic acid.
- Diabetes and obesity. If either of these exist pre-pregnancy, your child has a higher risk of being born with Spina Bifida.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Use #SpinaBifidaAwarenessMonth to post on social media. Reach out to someone you know who has Spina Bifida, or has a family member living with it, and see if you can spend the day with them. Talk with them and learn a little bit about what it’s like to live with this impairment. They will be grateful that you did!
The Spina Bifida Association founded National Spina Bifida Awareness Month. In our research, we were unable to find the year it was founded, but we do know that the campaign slogan changes each year. In 2016, the slogan was #BeyondAllLimits, and communities were encouraged to participate in activities and workshops that showed that those living with Spina Bifida can still get active and have fun with their communities.
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