[mass noun] A congenital defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone. It often causes paralysis of the lower limbs, and sometimes learning difficulties.
- ‘This is a very important charity which treats children with serious illnesses such as cancer, leukaemia, spina bifida and cystic fibrosis.’
- ‘Often called open spine, spina bifida affects the backbone and, sometimes, the spinal cord.’
- ‘Exposure to amniotic fluid may damage the neural tissue in cases of spina bifida and cause subsequent paralysis and hydrocephalus.’
- ‘Children with spina bifida (open spine) sometimes have a form of clubfoot.’
- ‘Ultrasound can be used to diagnose certain congenital defects such as spina bifida.’
Early 18th century: modern Latin (see spine, bifid).