Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus on the increase in Uganda – Experts

Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus on the increase in Uganda - Experts
Hydrocephalus can be congenital. For instance, children who are born with spina bifida, a defect in which the spinal cord does not fully form at birth, are prone to fluid buildup in their brains.

The number of Ugandans suffering from Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus is on the increase, according to experts.

The revelation comes ahead of the World Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Day, which is commemorated annually October 25th. This year’s celebrations will take place at Kaunda grounds in Gulu in Northern Uganda where a high number of people suffer from the conditions.

Data from Ministry of Health shows that the number of Ugandans suffering from the two conditions has increased by at least 600 people in the last seven years. Records show that around 1,500 people attend rehabilitation for the conditions each year.

It is estimated that around 1,000 and 1,400 children are born with either hydrocephalus or Spinal Bifida each year respectively.

Ruth Nalugya, President Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association Uganda (SHAU) says the number of people affected by Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus has over the years increased due the failure of many Ugandans to live healthy lifestyles that include consuming foods rich in iron and folic acid regularly.

The causes of the conditions are not known but the Ministry says research shows that most parents of children who suffer from the condition didn’t consume balanced diets during their pregnancy.

Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus on the increase in Uganda - Experts
The heads of babies with hydrocephalus swell like balloons from the excess fluid and pressure inside. The excess fluid can usually be seen in a CT scan of the brain.

Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State Minister for Primary Health Care, says conditions such as Spina Bifida are preventable but due to ignorance most Ugandans are taken unawares.

Dr. Moriku says that early intervention is the best way to treat the conditions. “These conditions shouldn’t be death sentences because they can easily be treated by draining water from the brain for children with hydrocephalus and rehabilitation for people with Spina Bifida so that their quality of life can be improved,” she said.

To reduce on the number of people suffering from the disease, the health ministry is calling upon all girls of child bearing age to consume foods rich in folic acids and micro nutrients like vegetable.

Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus are two different conditions that can either occur concurrently or separately. Spina Bifida is one of the commonest birth defects caused when the spine and spinal cord fail to properly develop within the first 28 days of conception.

Hydrocephalus is a condition that occurs when fluid builds up in the skull of a developing fetus and causes the brain to swell. Children with the condition normally with big heads.