Myelomeningocele can usually be corrected with surgery, and with treatment, the baby’s lifespan is usually not severely affected, so in that sense the prognosis is good. However, the neurological damage associated with this condition is often irreversible. Later in life, especially as the child reaches puberty, new spinal cord problems can develop and lead to greater loss of function, as well or orthopedic problems such as foot or ankle deformities, dislocated hips, scoliosis, and joint tightness or contractures. Oftentimes, myelomeningocele patients rely on the use of a wheelchair.
Other complications can include cerebral palsy (especially if there is a difficult delivery in which the baby’s brain receives a decreased level of oxygen), hydrocephalus, frequent urinary tract infections, meningitis, permanent weakness or paralysis of the legs, and loss of bowel or bladder control.