Spina bifida is one of a group of disorders called neural tube defects — malformations of the brain, spinal cord or their coverings. Spina bifida occurs when a fetus's developing spinal column does not close properly in the first 28 days following fertilization. The disorder can take one of three forms:
Spina bifida occulta — The spinal column is not completely closed. This may not cause any symptoms and often requires no treatment.
Meningocele — Part of covering of the spinal cord called the meninges may protrude through an opening in the back.
Myelomeningocele — A portion of the spinal cord itself protrudes through an opening in the back.
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