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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Spina bifida occulta


* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
  • Closed spina bifida
  • Occult spina bifida
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Your Question

How can you say this is not rare when unusual forms of spina bifida are grouped under occulta?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Why isn't spina bifida occulta considered rare?

Spina bifida occulta (SBO) is thought to be common, with an estimated prevalence of around 12%.[1] Given the current US population, this prevalence statistic estimates that 37.6 million Americans have spina bifida occulta. However this does not mean that every case of spina bifida occulta is the same. The size and severity of SBO can vary. While many cases of spina bifida occulta causes no symptoms, this is not always so. Urogenital problems and back problems (e.g., herniated disc and low back pain) have been experienced by people with these lesions.[1]
Last updated: 9/27/2013

  • Eubanks JD, Cheruvu VK. Prevalence of sacral spina bifida occulta and its relationship to age, sex, race, and the sacral table angle: an anatomic, osteologic study of three thousand one hundred specimens. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2009 Jul 1;34(15):1539-43; Accessed 9/27/2013.
  • Fletcher JM, Brei TJ. Introduction: Spina bifida--a multidisciplinary perspective. Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2010;16(1):1-5; Accessed 9/27/2013.