Spina bifida—We need to be aware
Dated : 22 February 2019
Author : Fareeha Jay
We Need to be Aware!
Spina Bifida…. when I take this name many of you won’t even know what it is, though it is one of the most common birth defects in Pakistan.
I personally believe that very little is being done about this condition, from prevention to treatment. Its surely an ignored condition as I couldn’t even find the accurate numbers of people affected by this condition in the country. Some sources mention that there are around 400,000 patients with spina bifida in Pakistan. It’s high time we get ourselves aware about this condition as it can be prevented to a certain extent.
Before I discuss on prevention Ill briefly explain about Spina Bifida in a very non-medical way.
Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect. A neural tube is a structure which eventually develops in to baby’s brain and spinal cord. If it doesn’t develop properly the baby gets the condition. This neural tube starts to form in the early pregnancy and closes 4 weeks after conception. There are different types of spina bifida and it can lead to:
- weakness or total paralyses of the legs
- bowel and urinary incontinence
- loss of sensation in legs
- some children can also have learning difficulties.
The cause of Spina Bifida is unknown though there are certain factors which can increase the risk of a baby developing this condition.
- Low folic acid during pregnancy
- Family history of spina bifida
All women during pregnancy should have 400 microgram folic acid tablets until 12 weeks of pregnancy. What is more important to know is that they should start having these supplements when they are trying to conceive and are planning for a baby.
Women who had a previous pregnancy affected by neural tube defect are at higher risk of having their other child with the same condition therefore they need to have a higher dose of folic acid which would be 5 milligram and `I strongly advise you to discuss this with your doctor.
Alongside the supplements women should also try to eat foods that are high in folate such as green leafy vegetables, spinach, broccoli, peas beans, chickpeas, oranges and whole grain foods.
Having folic acid supplementation can help reduce the incidence of spina bifida up to 70%, therefore awareness is the key factor. But more so we all need to play a part in creating this awareness. I’m sure those of you are reading this article have access to good doctors and gynaecologists and would be having these supplements any way but what we need to do now is make the larger population aware about it.
With more than 60 million Pakistanis below the poverty line surely, they don’t have awareness nor access to these supplements.
What can you do?
Majority of us have maids at home. We have women coming to clean our house, women for washing clothes, doing dishes etc,
Make them aware!
Tell them about it!
And if you think they are of child bearing age, planning to have a baby or pregnant just get them a bottle of folic acid supplement. I checked online and found that 250 tables (400 mcg) are for Rs 825. You’ll agree with me that this Rs 825 will be worth the spend.
If you don’t have any maids at home, you can always help women at your work place, women in children’s school, or any one you know.
Let’s do this together! I’ve played my part by writing this article and sharing it with you. You play your part!
I am Fareeha Jay, a registered Dietitian. I have a passion and desire to spread knowledge and awareness about healthy eating and lifestyle. The information I provide is based on scientific evidence but explained in a very non-scientific way. I want to break the myths around diet and food. I never want to give diet plans rather I want to empower people on their food and lifestyle choices, so that people can make their own diet plans for the rest of their lives.