The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

March 24, 2014

Baby had surgery while still in the womb

Jezzabella has more use of legs than most kids born with spina bifida

After the ultrasound, things were a little strange.

“They had us see several different people, including a geneticist,” says Lake Crystal resident Jamie Snow of her pre-natal experience. “And she kept referring back to spina bifida.”

She’d heard the term before. Didn’t know much about it. But these vague references from her doctors had her wondering if something in the ultrasound was pointing to something wrong with her baby.

“I didn’t know what to think, had no inkling of what was gong on,” she said.

Finally, after visiting with doctors in Rochester, it was confirmed: The baby in her womb would enter the world with spina bifida.

According to the Mayo Clinic, spina bifida “is part of a group of birth defects called neural tube defects. The neural tube is the embryonic structure that eventually develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them. Normally, the neural tube forms early in the pregnancy and closes by the 28th day after conception. In babies with spina bifida, a portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, causing defects in the spinal cord and in the bones of the backbone.”

Tough news for any family to hear.

But luckily, new technology was available that was about to offer hope that several years ago simply didn’t exist for families and babies with spina bifida.

Doctors approached the family and asked if they wanted to take part in something called “Mom’s Study Trial.” The trial involves a revolutionary surgery where the characteristic spinal defect can be partially repaired while the baby is still in the womb.

Snow says she and her husband weighed the risks, but ultimately got tested to see if they qualified for the surgery. Surgery, then, was scheduled.

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