PITTSBURGH – A team of specialists at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh have performed UPMC’s first in-utero surgery to close an open neural tube defect in a baby months before her birth.
When Allee Mullen was pregnant, her baby was diagnosed with spina bifida, a birth defect in which the baby is born with the spinal cord exposed to the air because the overlying bone, muscle, and skin do not form properly during development, causing moderate-to-severe physical disabilities. There are several types of spina bifida, and Mullen’s baby was diagnosed with a myelomeningocele, the most serious form of spina bifida.
Spina bifida affects about 1,500 babies born each year in the United States. At UPMC Children’s Hospital, physicians close defects like this one in 10 to 20 infants each year after the mother has delivered the baby.