Your Healthy Family

May 1, 2013 9:46 AM by Marissa Torres

Advanced surgery helps babies with Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida is one of the most common birth defects in the United States, diagnosed in about 1500 babies every year. But thanks to research and support from the March of Dimes, doctors are now able to perform life-changing surgery on babies before they're even born.

Three week old Berkley's strong legs and toes are both miracle and modern medicine.

At eighteen weeks pregnant, Meagan Bishop learned her unborn baby had Spina Bifida; a birth defect where the spinal cord doesn't finish forming completely- leading to physical and neurological impairments.

"It's overwhelming it's almost consuming to find out something like that."

The Bishops went to Texas Children's Hospital for a very delicate procedure where surgeons open up the pregnant mother's uterus and repair baby's spine.

"I had two babies on the operating table my wife being one and our baby being the other so it was frightening but in the end it worked out great" says father, Derek Bishop.

Doctor Darrell Cass, a surgeon performed the surgery. "We think that this is a major advance in improving and lessening the disability in children faced with this very devastating disease of Spina Bifida."

Traditionally, doctors would wait until after birth to make the repair, but studies have shown operating in utero greatly reduces the risk of fluid on the child's brain while doubling the likelihood that the child will one day walk independently.

"And that's where the march of dimes might really come to play here because they've been a big supporter with everything that has to do with perinatal health and they've supported research to help us understand how to best use fetal surgery to treat children with Spina Bifida."

Little Berkley received the best possible prognosis.

"We just have the best hopes for her and so do all the doctors so we're just excited to see... how the future unfolds."

The procedure is still in its infancy, but the results are extremely promising.



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