We'd like to thank Meryl in Scotland, Hannah in New York, Mike in Georgia, and Carol in Michigan, as they sent off a barrage of emails and phone calls about this new study. According to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, surgery on babies while they are in the womb has an enormous rate of success at limiting Spina bifida's effects once the baby is born.
In fact, as the article above states, babies who had surgery while still in the uterus are "more likely to walk and experience fewer neurological problems if operated on before being born rather than afterward." The surgery also helped limit the necessity of a brain shunt, which is the cause of many difficulties later in life. Indeed, the study was so successful that those running it cut it short. Rather than randomly choose some babies to have surgery after their birth, it was determined that every baby should have the relatively safe, prenatal surgery.
It's hard to say what the long-term repercussions of this study will be. But it's even harder to think of any that will be negative. Maybe costs are high at first and maybe doctors will need to be specially-trained. But those are small prices to pay for the trade-off of potentially limiting the effects of one of the most common types of birth defects.
Ten or fifteen years ago, when I worked with the March of Dimes, we stressed the importance of women taking folic acid during pregnancy in order to help prevent birth defects. While prevention remains a vital goal, it's encouraging to know that we have progressed to the point where we can possibly "repair" a baby even after the early onset of a birth defect. It may not be a perfect solution, but the recent study is an enormous milestone for researchers, doctors, and of course, all of us in the disabled community. Let's keep up the good work!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Recently, a fellow at the University of Minnesota got into trouble for using his dead mother's handicapped parking pass. There are so many things I could say about this, but none of them would be as spot on as an email I received from reader Will about the story:
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Those of you in the Chicago area, or the Midwest for that matter, can commiserate with the giant dumping of snow we all got yesterday, in the form a flying, hurricane-like, windy blizzard. We have a post going up about snowfall for Yahoo! Accessibility at the end of the week, but we wanted to give you a glimpse of what we got, and why you shouldn't let using a wheelchair stop you from going out and playing in it! Side note-Chris was a big wimp and escaped to Florida before the snow came, but we'll try not to judge him.
|Across the street from our apartment-this street still isn't plowed.|
|Taking the road since the sidewalks haven't been shoveled yet|
|11:30pm-right when all the bad stuff hit!|
|In front of our apartment|
|The next day-snow stopped at 11:30am|