|The actor and model wrote a beautiful, touching letter to his daughter, Sophie Tei-Naaki Lee Kodjoe on her 10th birthday which is today March 5. Sophie was diagnosed with spina bifida (split spine – a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its covering) at birth.
To My Little Heart. The day I met your mother I knew I was ready to be a man. The day I met you I became one. You’ve shown me what true strength and courage is and you taught me that the love of faith and the faith in love is one and the same.
I’m in awe of your ability to defy the odds and I marvel at the confidence with which you produce miracle after miracle. You smile your way through life and your light touches everyone around you.
Spina bifida (Latin: “split spine”) is a developmental congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube. Some vertebrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed and remain unfused and open. If the opening is large enough, this allows a portion of the spinal cord to protrude through the opening in the bones. There may or may not be a fluid-filled sac surrounding the spinal cord. Other neural tube defects include anencephaly, a condition in which the portion of the neural tube that will become the cerebrum does not close, and encephalocele, which results when other parts of the brain remain unfused.
Spina bifida malformations fall into three categories: spina bifida occulta, spina bifida cystica with meningocele, and spina bifida cystica with myelomeningocele. The most common location of the malformations is the lumbar and sacral areas. Myelomeningocele is the most significant and common form, and this leads to disability in most affected individuals. The terms spina bifida and myelomeningocele are usually used interchangeably.
Spina bifida can be surgically closed after birth, but this does not restore normal function to the affected part of the spinal cord. Intrauterine surgery for spina bifida has also been performed, and the safety and efficacy of this procedure are currently being investigated. A study conducted with mothers who had prior spina bifida births indicates the incidence of spina bifida can be decreased by up to 70% when the mother takes daily folic acid supplements prior to conception.
Spina bifida meningocele and myelomeningocele are among the most common birth defects, with a worldwide incidence of about 1 in every 1000 births. The occulta form is much more common, but only rarely causes neurological symptoms.