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Monday, 24 December 2018

Spina Bifida. A brilliant new operation? Or a drastic intervention for a condition that is often caused by conventional medicine?

Spina Bifida is a condition where the baby's spine and spinal cord fail to develop normally within the womb, causing a gap, called a neural tube defect to form. The neural tube is the structure that forms in early pregnancy, and normally closes about 4 weeks after conception. In spina bifida the closure is incomplete, and this can lead to defects in the spinal cord and vertebrae.

This can lead to weakness or paralysis in the lower limbs, muscle weakness that can affect bone development, causing dislocated or deformed joints, bone fractures, mis-shapen bones, and scoliosis. It can also lead to bladder and bowel problems, including incontinence, urinary track infections, kidney problems, constipation and/or diarrhoea. It can also cause hydrocephalus, and related problems.

Announcing a brilliant new operation?
So spina bifida is not a minor condition. For many years surgery has been used soon after birth to close this gap in the spine, but often the nervous system will already have been damaged by this time. So in more recent years the operation has been carried out several weeks before the baby is born, in the hope that this will improve some of these difficulties, and lead to better long-term health. In December 2018. in Britain, it's been announced that the operation is to become routinely available on the National Health Service (NHS).

So is this another example of a brilliant new surgical technique 
that will help transform our experience of health care?

Maybe - but as usual with surgical breakthroughs of this kind it is not as simple as that. Conventional medicine likes to tell us about their new 'wonder' drugs, and their brilliant new surgical techniques. They do so regularly. But the real situation is usually more complicated - as in this case.

The causes of Spina Bifida
It is thought that Spina Bifida has been with us since time began, although the condition certainly increased during the 20th century, but has since levelled off in more recent years because of earlier detection, and the recognition that prevention is possible by ensuring the mother has sufficient folate acid levels during pregnancy. So what causes spina bifida?

  • Conventional medicine tells us that it is a congenital condition, and happens when pregnant mother's have low levels of folate acid during their pregnancy.
  • What conventional medicine often does not tell us is that there is another known cause of Spina Bifida (and low folate levels) - pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to pregnant women during pregnancy.

Drugs that cause Spina Bifida?
Surprisingly, and untypically, NHS Choices does admit that "taking certain medications during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of having a baby with spina bifida or other birth defects". It specifically mentions epileptic drugs, such as valproate and carbamazepine (which are also used to treat bipolar disorder). Yet amazingly the solution offered is not to stop taking them, it is that "doctors will try to avoid prescribing these medications if there's a chance you could get pregnant while taking them", plus advice to women not to get pregnant whilst taking them! Or to take folic acid supplements!

The Health Prep website is a little more forthcoming, saying that "any time a woman is pregnant, the pills she takes can end up affecting her unborn child", including spina bifida. Again, it mentions anti-seizure drugs, "but some other types of drugs can also cause issues". It goes on to suggest that drugs cause spina bifida "because they alter the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients" like folic acid. This reminds us that the cause of (rather than an explanation for) spina bifida is NOT a lack of folic acid, but the reason WHY there is a lack of folic acid in the first place. Anti-convulsant drugs, such as Topamax or Depokote, seem to directly affect the ability of the foetus, and the mother, to metabolize folate acid, so they are directly implicated in the reduction of folate levels.

The WebMD website, in an article published in 2010, refers to research published in the BMJ Online First journal, that found babies born to women who have taken the anti-seizure drug Carbamazepine have a more than twofold increased risk of a spina bifida child, but that this was better than another epilepsy drug, Valproic acid (which is marketed under a multiplicity of trade names). The study showed that among nearly 4 million babies born in Europe between 1995 and 2005, including almost 100,000 who had major birth defects, 2,680 were born to mothers who took carbamazepine during the first three months of pregnancy.

Yet it is not just anti-epileptic drugs that are known to cause spina bifida. The Spina Bifida HQ website states clearly that antidepressant drugs are also implicated. It says "... antidepressants that increase the concentration of serotonin available in a woman’s system (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs) seem to especially increase a child’s risk for spina bifida" and that the SSRI's implicated are some of the most common antidepressant drugs prescribed, such as Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft and Celexa "among others". It adds that "the percentage risk of a child having spina bifida if the mother takes an SSRI during pregnancy has not been clearly established." Given the seriousness of this disease it might have been expected that conventional medicine might have done so by now!

Even the USA drug regulator, the FDA, has warned about the link between antidepressants drugs and spina bifida. Several FDA warnings given over the years have been outlined in this Drug Reporter website yet nothing has been done to protect women, and their unborn babies. The conventional medical establishment, whilst recognising the serious dangers of the drugs they use, continue to insist that they are necessary in order to treat other conditions. So dangerous drugs are never withdrawn or banned, and babies continue to be born with spina bifida and other birth defects, and they are dismissed as 'congenital' or a lack of folate acid!

Conventional medicine causes disease, and then produces expensive cures
The human cost of of these pharmaceutical drugs is immense, both to the damaged child, and to his/her family. So anything that can be done to ameliorate the tragedy of spina bifida should be applauded. So what about this new surgical breakthrough.

Yet there is also a huge financial cost too. This arises when conventional medicine knows, full well, that a significant cause of spina bifida is not congenital, but the pharmaceutical drugs doctors continue to give to pregnant women. The condition is caused, in many instances, by a so-called 'side effect' of earlier conventional medical treatment.

If this primary causation was properly admitted by conventional medicine the solution would NOT be a brilliant new operation. It would be to ban the pharmaceutical drugs that have caused the condition in the first place.

As in so many similar situations, if conventional medicine were able to accept the damage to health it is causing through its pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, an easier and simpler solution would be to stop this damage at source. To stop prescribing drugs that caused foetal harm. Coming up with expensive new solutions (however brilliant they might be) is not the best solution to problems conventional medicine has caused in the first place!

In part this explains why is conventional medicine in crisis? It is not under-funding. It is the inability of the conventional medical establishment to recognise that they have to continually invent new treatments to illnesses and diseases that they have created, or added to, in the first place.