There are hundreds of thousands of people who have Spina Bifida, and throughout the month of October, we celebrate National Spina Bifida Awareness Month to raise awareness and support for them. Spina Bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. This neural tube becomes the baby’s brain, spinal cord, and the tissues that enclose them. Spina bifida occulta or “hidden” spina bifida doesn’t cause any disabilities and it doesn’t appear until later in life. Typically, there’s a gap in the baby’s back instead of an opening and there’s no damage to the spinal cord or the nerves.
History of National Spina Bifida Awareness Month
Spinal defects have existed since the beginnings of mankind. Anthropologists have uncovered many depictions in statues and artifacts from ancient civilizations of people young and old with malformed spinal cords. In the Classical Period of the Greek physician Hippocrates, descriptive writings revealed such defects, though they didn’t have the proper medical science and tools to heal them at the time.
The first description of a spina bifida case was by Nicolas Tulp in 1653. Tulp proposed the term and described it as a vertebral anomaly and it was considered a duplication of the spinous process of the vertebra. Spina Bifida was first found in the textbook Observationes Medicae, written by Tulp, with descriptions of six Spina Bifida cases. One illustration showed a Spina Bifida case of a child with a large lumbar level myelomeningocele defect.
From the early 1600s to the mid-1800s, surgeons attempted to treat Spina Bifida to no avail. Despite this, they continued their research and approached the defect with new techniques, draining or injecting solutions into the sac. Mortality rates fell, but patient debilitation was still the end result. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Dr. James Morton used an iodine and glycerine solution for injection into the sac and this technique proved successful.
In 1973, the Spina Bifida Association of America was formed in Chicago Illinois and it was primarily used as a source of information for its chapters and members. They enabled children with spina bifida to live longer by using new treatments and diagnostic tools that helped families affected by it. As time goes on, the month of October is named as its official month and in the twenty-first century, events and fundraisers have increased in the ongoing battle to better treat spina bifida.
National Spina Bifida Awareness Month timeline
- 20th century
October is the Month
National Spina Bifida Awareness Month is proposed for October and events and fundraisers for spina bifida grows.
Dr. James Morton develops an iodine and glycerine solution that decreases the mortality rate for spina bifida patients.
Try as they might, surgeons are unable to decrease mortality rates for spina bifida.
Spina bifida was first found in the textbook Observationes Medicae, written by Nicolas Tulp.
- 4th Century
Hippocrates has descriptive writings of spina bifida, but the science of the time wasn’t advanced enough to treat it.
National Spina Bifida Awareness Month FAQs
Where can I donate?
You can donate at spinabifidaassociation.org/.
How much are they trying to raise?
In October, they’re trying to raise $15,000.
Is there a spina bifida awareness time that’s global?
The international holidays World Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Day take place on October 25.
How To Observe National Spina Bifida Awareness Month
Donate to charity
While many advancements have been made when it comes to spina bifida treatment, there's always a need for more tools and resources when it comes to spina bifida. The money also goes toward shaping public policy on important issues that affect the community and it delivers vital information to individuals, families, and healthcare professionals. Spreading awareness is essential for making strides.
Make it a theme
Everyone loves a theme, especially when it's for a good cause. Request a day to celebrate spina bifida awareness during October for your school or job. Invite everyone to wear teal in honor of the day and throw a pizza party or potluck where everyone brings their favorite dish. People can pitch in an amount to donate and have a goal set up that you want to reach. You’ll have a good time while also knowing that you’re making a difference.
You can educate yourself using social media by learning about those most affected by spina bifida. You can learn about the personal stories of everyday people by using the hashtag #SpinaBifida and in doing so, you educate yourself on the cause. From there, you can share, post, and do your part in informing others. Online there are webinar series and educational tools at your disposal that can be found at SpinaBifidaAssociation.com.
Five Facts About National Spina Bifida Awareness Month
Myelomeningocele is the most common and severe form of spina bifida.
No one knows for sure, but scientists believe that spina bifida occurs because of genetics and the environment.
One of a kind
Spina bifida is referred to as the “snowflake condition” because no two are alike.
Some babies can have surgery in the womb to minimize the damage of spina bifida.
Spina bifida occurs in the first 28 days of pregnancy.
Why National Spina Bifida Awareness Month Is Important
It’s very relevant
Spina bifida is the most common neural tube defect in the United States. Of the more than 4 million babies born, 1,500 to 2,000 are affected by it. Because it's so common it's important to be aware and to be prepared so that we can help as many people with valuable knowledge.
The cost of care
Spina bifida takes an emotional and financial toll on families. Children that have spina bifida have medical expenditures thirteen times greater than those without the defect. Anything that we can do to lessen the strain is necessary to make it a little easier for them.
We can find answers
There currently isn’t a cure for spina bifida, but scientists are hard at work doing all they can to find one. As of right now, the defect can be minimized and managed, but the more we draw attention to it and fund the research, the closer we get to curing it completely.
National Spina Bifida Awareness Month dates