Newborn spinal defects: Here's what parents need to know

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Here's some important information on common conditions that can affect a newborn's neurological growth and development, moms and dads.

According to DocsMedical.com, a cyst is "a fluid-filled sac" that may develop within the spine because of degeneration. Cysts can lead to conditions such as spinal stenosis, which is an abnormal narrowing of the spine that can result to "neurological deficits" as well as pain, numbness, paresthesia (tingling), and loss of motor control. Although, in some cases, cysts can disappear on their own without medical intervention.

Let's first take a closer look at the 6 kinds of cysts that can be found in the lower spine.

1. Synovial cyst: This type of cyst is more common in those aged 65 and above. This can be the result of trauma or degeneration. Extreme pain is experienced by those who suffer this, due to pinched nerves. Thickening of the walls around the cyst can damage nerve tissue, so surgery is usually recommended.

2. Ganglion cyst: This type of cyst is rare in kids under the age of 10. It is a tumor or swelling usually seen at the top of a joint or around a tendon. Aspiration of the cyst's content using a needle may be recommended. When the cyst becomes too painful or causes neurological symptoms, like numbness and tingling, that's when surgery is needed.

3. Tarlov cyst: Commonly seen in women, this type of cyst is often spotted during MRI scans of the lower back. Though it has no serious effects, it can cause pain, numbness, or affect bowel/bladder function if it hits the nerves around it. Surgery is usually recommended.

4. Arachnoid cyst: This typically has no symptoms. It is commonly appear at birth as a pocket of fluid in the spine. Doctors do not normally recommend treatment, as it usually resolves on its own.

5. Intradiscal cyst: As its name suggests, this rare type of cyst is located between spinal discs and can cause radiating pain felt in surrounding areas. Non-surgical treatment is often recommended.

6. Sebaceous cyst: This "skin cysts" can be found anywhere on the body, but it's commonly seen in the lower back. They're usually the result of swollen hair follicles. It's important to note that this type of cysts often result in infection, as bacteria buildup often occurs as a result of increased pressure as the cysts grow.

What are birth defects of the spine?

Aside from lower spine defects, the rest of the spinal cord can suffer from developmental problems in utero. Depending on the location and severity, babies can experience symptoms like loss of sensation, incontinence, or even paralysis, in some extreme cases.

Though no specific cause has been determined, doctors believe genetics and environmental factors play a huge role. For instance, for cases of spina bifida, many exerts believe one cause is folic acid deficiency during pregnancy. About 400 mcg of folic acid is recommended daily throughout pregnancy.

Spina Bifida

This common neural tube birth defect occurs when a fetus' neural tube tissue doesn't close completely, after the brain and spinal cord develops in the womb. There are three kinds: Occulta, Meningocele, and Myelomeningocele.

Occulta is the mildest type of spina bifida and doesn't result in symptoms. In cases like this, a baby's spine and nerves function and appear normally, save for a possible "dimple or spot" marking the spot of the defect.

Meningocele is a rare type of spina bifida, which causes cysts to protrude through the back. Surgery is typically recommended to facilitate the normal development of the baby's spine.

Myelomeningocele is the most severe type of spina bifida, which a results in a fluid-filled cyst that also contains nerve tissue and sections of the spine. Surgery is often urgently recommended in order to avoid infection.

Another birth defect that increases the risk of infection is Occult Spinal Dysraphism. This involves abnormalities such as small openings, tumors, clumps of hair, etc. Surgery is often done immediately to prevent further complications.

One such case is that of former beauty queen and Pinoy Big Brother Season 2 alum Wendy Valdez, who recently took to social media to ask for prayers for her baby, Emmanuel Seth, who needed to undergo surgery due to a cyst at the bottom of his spine.

"When God promised to give us children, I thought we will have twins at once, instead we had only Seth. We were so excited, but in just 4 months, our excitement turned into pain when instead of knowing his gender, we saw that our child has cyst at the bottom of his spine," wrote the 34-year-old mom, adding how the spine was first spotted during an ultrasound when she was 4 months along, but did not elaborate on the type of cyst her baby boy had.

?Thank you Lord that I am finally able to hold my son. ? Soon makakauwi din tayo anak. ? #EmmanuelSethGarcia ? It was January since we found out about everything that may happen to Seth and I journaled every word and assurance that God would give us, and every lesson I would learn. Sharing to you my journal, a day before I went into unexpected labor and delivery. ? 06/10/2017 12:56 PM ?? Even in pain, nothing is wasted with God. May it be for my faith muscles to be used; trust in Him and who he is, to be fully grasped; idols of the heart removed; my heart being transformed; people who are going through the same situation to be encouraged; to be humbled, to be strengthened, while tested by fire; to show His power in my situation; to inspire others of the joy I have in Christ, no matter what; to prepare my character, to help save many lives; and for His glory and power to be revealed. All for Him. And it overflows through an unfathomable love, for all His children. Equipped in fire, and made to be gold, for the glory of His name. What I know now, is that what I am allowed to go through is what I had to go through because God is in control, and He knows what He is doing. ??Genesis 50:20 even if it was meant for evil, God meant it for good. For the saving of many lives. So be it. ??Just like what Jesus said before the cross. "Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." - Luke 22:42 ??James 1:2-4 Profiting from Trials 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. ??God is maturing us and sanctifying us through suffering. (From my devotional) ? - God prepares ordinary people for extraordinary purposes through suffering. - C.S. Lewis ??Ephesians 2:10 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do ??2 Chorinthians 4:17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

A post shared by Wendy Valdez-Garcia (@wendyvaldez_garcia) on

Immediate surgery after birth was recommended by doctors in order to prevent the cyst from affecting other parts of the baby's body, like his bladder and bowel. If not treated quickly, the cyst could also hinder his ability to walk.

Fortunately, the surgery went well. As her baby recovers, Wendy is still urging her followers to pray for little Seth.

She married Normann Garcia in 2015. A year later, Wendy lost their first baby.

"After we lost our first baby, we have not ceased praying for a child of our own. Every month we waited and prayed. For some reason, I felt like God closed my womb. For 7 months, God has taught us a lot in our marriage and about myself. I heard people telling me to get work up, and how difficult it is to get pregnant my age, but I only focused on the Lord and what He can do," she wrote in a recent post, "I trusted God's timing and plan alone."

Be on the lookout for odd bumps and lumps, moms and dads! Even if they don't have any symptoms, it's best to consult doctors immediately to be super sure and safe.

READ: Paula Peralejo reveals baby had surgery to correct ‘tongue and lip tie’

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza