Spina bifida, "split spine" is a birth defect affecting the spinal column. Spina bifida is caused by the failure of the neural tube to close during the first months of pregnancy - often before you know you are pregnant. There may or may not be a fluid-filled sac surrounding the spinal cord.
Spina bifida is the most common of a group of birth defects known as neural tube defects, which affect the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
The term “spina bifida” often is used interchangeably with myelomeningocele, since this is the type of spina bifida that causes the vast majority of disability. Fortunately, surgery is an effective treatment in most people with spina bifida. Most infants with an open spine or myelomeningocele undergo surgery within the first 48 hours of life to close the defect. Antibiotics are given to prevent infection of the exposed spinal cord and nerves until these structures can be protected by surgery.