Sonny and Carly were stunned on GENERAL HOSPITAL when they learned that their unborn child had been diagnosed with spina bifida, but what does that mean for their baby's future? Soaps have always done these kinds of storylines to help bring awareness to real-world issues, and this is just the latest in a long line of similar GH storylines. In reality, the rare condition can range from mild to severe, and there are also various treatment options, so who knows what the future may hold?
Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly during fetal development. A portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, which causes defects in the spinal cord and bones of the spine. Although doctors are not sure what causes spina bifida, it appears to result as a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Anything from a family history of neural tube defects or a folate deficiency could cause it.
Depending on the severity of the spina bifida, the child could experience minimal symptoms or physical disabilities at one end, or orthopedic problems, hydrocephalus, or difficulty breathing and swallowing at the other extreme. They may also require mobility devices such as canes or wheelchairs to get around, and can also develop learning difficulties.
Treatment will require surgery, either before or after birth, in order to repair the baby's spinal cord. As the child grows, further care and observation is required to manage any complications that may result. Many children with spina bifida grow up to live full, productive lives. For even more information about spina bifida, you can visit mayoclinic.org.
So far, Carly and Sonny have only been told of their child's diagnosis and the fact that she will have to deliver via cesarean. As the storyline develops, the expectant parents will learn more details and will face some difficult decisions. But that's what makes for great daytime drama. Say tuned to see what happens next, and for more GH news, keep reading the ABC edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.
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