What is the length of time a person can live with Spina Bifida?

Expert Answers
ophelious eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a challenging question, but a good one to ask.  Spina Bifida is catagorized depending on severity, and this could influence any decrease in normal lifespan.

  • Spina bifida occulta can cause minor or no symptoms,
  • Spina bifida cystica - meningocele is more serious,
  • Spina bifida cystica - myelomeningocele is the most serious kind.
Though certain aspects of Spina Bifida are correctable, such as closing the opening in the spine, the myriad of other effects can only be "maintained." According to a 2001 study, 75% of children born with Spina Bifida, if they receive proper medical treatment, will live into their early adult years.  Does this mean that they will then die?  No.  What it means is that in the 2001 study, begun in 1975, of those babies born with Spina Bifida 75% were still alive 26 years later. During that same period of time, there was about an 8% increase in the number of babies born with this defect that survived the first year (from 83% in 1979 to 91% in 1994.)  Notice, though, how old those dates are.  There are not a lot of good studies on the subject. From anecdotal evidence, the majority of those with Spina Bifida who receive proper treatment will live to near normal or normal lifespan.