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Doctor insights on: Anencephaly

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Dr. Richard Roberts
60 Doctors shared insights

Anencephaly (Overview)

A baby born with an underdeveloped brain and an incomplete skull.


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What sort of problem is anencephaly?

What sort of problem is anencephaly?

Failure of closure: The fetus is busy around 20-30 days in when the nervous system starts forming along a line like a trench. The trench folds in on itself and begins to form a tube, sealing itself in the middle first and moving toward both ends like two zippers. When the top end fails to close, many brain structures don't form & we have anencephaly.At the bottom, we get spina bifida. ...Read more

Dr. Richard Roberts
60 Doctors shared insights

Anencephaly (Overview)

A baby born with an underdeveloped brain and an incomplete skull.


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What are the symptoms of anencephaly?

What are the symptoms of anencephaly?

None.: The mother usually has no symptoms when she is carrying an anencephalic infant, however this is a lethal fetal anomaly. Its recurrence in future pregnancies can be prevented with daily use of Folic Acid at 4-5 mg. ...Read more

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What are the tests that indicate anencephaly?

What are the tests that indicate anencephaly?

Anencephaly: Anencephaly is a serious birth defect where the brain does not form and the top of the skull is open. It is an extreme form of a neural tube defect. Tests which can indicate anencephaly are an ultrasound examination. A blood test called msafp can be drawn at 15 weeks also. ...Read more

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I'm 15 weeks and they told me that my baby have anencephaly. I don't know what to do?

I'm 15 weeks and they told me that my baby have anencephaly. I don't know what to do?

Sorry for your loss: I've been through about half a dozen of these but never in your shoes. Another 30+ weeks of pregnancy carrying this burden may or may not be something you can bear when the outcome is so predictable & bad. Consult your spouse, spiritual adviser, & pray. Do what fits for your needs & grieve for what might have been. See & hold baby whatever you do to say good bye. Followup with a geneticist later. ...Read more

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Can diabetes in pregnancy cause anencephaly?

Can diabetes in pregnancy cause anencephaly?

Diabetes: Insulin dependent diabetes, diabetes type 1, which is poorly controlled in early pregnancy is associated with a higher rate of neural tube defects. Anencephaly is the most extreme form of a neural tube defect. ...Read more

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What can I do to treat anencephaly?

What can I do to treat anencephaly?

Comfort care only!: Nobody can nor should help prolong the "lives" of these poor neonates. Anencephalic newborns are devoid of any chance of meaningful interaction with the environment and never attain consciousness. Comfort care is all that is ethically permissible for these dramatic cases.
Take 4-5 mg daily of Folic Acid daily throughout your reproductive life, to prevent this from recurring in future pregnancies. ...Read more

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What is the treatment for anencephaly?

Up to parents: This is always fatal within hours or days. The management choices depend on the parents. Some accept early termination after confirmation. Some choose to deliver and spend time with the baby, avoiding attempts to prolong the act of dying. If they choose to deliver, I encourage the parents to see and hold the baby, and have a chance to say goodbye. This has been shown to speed emotional recovery ...Read more

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Does anyone know if anencephaly is a genetic disease?

Does anyone know if anencephaly is a genetic disease?

Not genetic: We don't know why anencephaly happens, but it is not genetic. It may be in part due to a mother not having enough Folic Acid in her diet. ...Read more

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What is anencephaly?

Anencephaly: Anencephaly is one of a group of malformations of the central nervous system collectively called neural tube defects. Anencephaly is readily apparent at birth because of the absence of the skull and scalp and with exposure of the underlying brain. ...Read more

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What can I do to treat anencephaly?

Comfort care only!: Nobody can nor should help prolong the "lives" of these poor neonates. Anencephalic newborns are devoid of any chance of meaningful interaction with the environment and never attain consciousness. Comfort care is all that is ethically permissible for these dramatic cases.
Take 4-5 mg daily of Folic Acid daily throughout your reproductive life, to prevent this from recurring in future pregnancies. ...Read more

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What are the tests for anencephaly?

Ultrasound.: Only expert prenatal ultrasound can reliably detect anencephaly after the first trimester of pregnancy. Amniotic fluid Alpha fetoprotein and acetylcholinesterase can also help reach the diagnosis. ...Read more

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What sort of problem is anencephaly?

Failure of closure: The fetus is busy around 20-30 days in when the nervous system starts forming along a line like a trench. The trench folds in on itself and begins to form a tube, sealing itself in the middle first and moving toward both ends like two zippers. When the top end fails to close, many brain structures don't form & we have anencephaly.At the bottom, we get spina bifida. ...Read more

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What are the symptoms of anencephaly?

None.: The mother usually has no symptoms when she is carrying an anencephalic infant, however this is a lethal fetal anomaly. Its recurrence in future pregnancies can be prevented with daily use of Folic Acid at 4-5 mg. ...Read more

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What is the main cause of anencephaly?

3 weeks after con-: Ception, an embryo's neural plate develops a midline groove; its edges over-fold & close to form a neural tube. Anencephaly is the most severe of the Neural Tube Defects caused by interaction of one of several genes with environmental factors. Low maternal folate (folic acid) level at conception is a main cause; MTHFR, a main gene iinvolved. Fertile women who take daily Folic Acid have lower risk of NTD's. ...Read more

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What are the tests that indicate anencephaly?

Anencephaly: Anencephaly is a serious birth defect where the brain does not form and the top of the skull is open. It is an extreme form of a neural tube defect. Tests which can indicate anencephaly are an ultrasound examination. A blood test called msafp can be drawn at 15 weeks also. ...Read more

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What is the definition or description of: Anencephaly?

No brain: It is a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. Anencephaly can often be diagnosed before birth through an ultrasound examination. There is no cure or standard treatment for anencephaly and the prognosis for patients is death. ...Read more

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I'm 15 weeks and they told me that my baby have anencephaly. I don't know what to do?

Sorry for your loss: I've been through about half a dozen of these but never in your shoes. Another 30+ weeks of pregnancy carrying this burden may or may not be something you can bear when the outcome is so predictable & bad. Consult your spouse, spiritual adviser, & pray. Do what fits for your needs & grieve for what might have been. See & hold baby whatever you do to say good bye. Followup with a geneticist later. ...Read more

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What is iniencephaly vs anencephaly?

What is iniencephaly vs anencephaly?

Same.: Iniencephaly is as lethal as anencephaly and associated with an extreme retroflexion of the fetal head towards the back. ...Read more

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What do doctors say when they tell a family the baby has anencephaly>?

What do doctors say when they tell a family the baby has anencephaly>?

Hopefully, the truth: The difficulty of transmitting this info to the parents is much less than the sadness & loss the parents will feel when they get the info. Pregnancy is one of life's gambles & up to 4% have an unexpected event after delivery. Accurate information on how/why/recurrence risks are all part of the problem management. Either the OB or a geneticist /counselor should fill in the blanks. ...Read more

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What are the chances of someone with type 1 having a baby with anencephaly?

What are the chances of someone with type 1 having a baby with anencephaly?

Increased anomalies: Women with diabetes that is poorly controlled in the weeks prior to and the first weeks of pregnancy have a higher chance of having a fetus with abnormalities of the heart and other parts of the body. It is important that they see a doctor and improve glycemic control before even trying to conceive. Screening and ultrasound studies can detect many of these abnormalities, but prevention is key. ...Read more

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What is the treatment for anencephaly?

Up to parents: This is always fatal within hours or days. The management choices depend on the parents. Some accept early termination after confirmation. Some choose to deliver and spend time with the baby, avoiding attempts to prolong the act of dying. If they choose to deliver, I encourage the parents to see and hold the baby, and have a chance to say goodbye. This has been shown to speed emotional recovery ...Read more

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Is there a link between anencephaly and genetics? Are they hereditary?

Loose link: All of the neural tube defects from anencephaly down down the back to spina bifida are all loosely linked through numerous genes. Recurrence risk after a first affected child is minimal, quoted as 1.9%, but would encompass any of the related defects. Most are considered single chance events, and pre-pregnancy supplement of Folic Acid has reduced the frequency. ...Read more

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Hi I had my first child with anencephaly. What preventive measures need to be taken for the next baby?

Folic acid: To prevent anencephaly and spina bifida it has been recommended that women start taking folic acid before considering undertaking a pregnancy. speak to your OBGYN about this. ...Read more

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37wks+2days pregnant. Feelin scared & anxious of losin this healthy baby in this last bit. Lost 2 bubs to anencephaly in past. Wat can I do? Jus want safe

37wks+2days pregnant. Feelin scared & anxious of losin this healthy baby in this last bit. Lost 2 bubs to anencephaly in past. Wat can I do? Jus want safe

Natural feelinngs: With your past experience it is easy for you to remain an emotional mess, even after a normal delivery and healthy initial exam. Surround yourself with supportive people who are willing to listen. By the time this baby is five you may relax. Just hang in there. ...Read more

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Lost 2 bubs to anencephaly. Now preg with healthy 3rd baby no NTD's.Have had vag bleedin this preg all told"unexplained".Any tips to gt thru last 8wks?

Lost 2 bubs to anencephaly. Now preg with healthy 3rd baby no NTD's.Have had vag bleedin this preg all told"unexplained".Any tips to gt thru last 8wks?

Bedrest: You should take it easy. Not too much activity. Frequent doctor visits and close monitoring. May be best to avoid sexual activity during the final weeks. Babys born 8 weeks early typically do very well these days. ...Read more

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Could baby with anencephaly grow a brain?

No: By definition, the infant with anencephaly went through the stages of fetal development without major brain parts. The primitive tissues of forebrain development come together to form a brain, or not, well before a month into fetal life. It cannot start over. Anencephaly patients can live a day or two under some circumstances but most pass shortly after birth if not prior to delivery. ...Read more

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Could hair perms cause anencephaly in unborn babies?

Don't know: I do not know. I have not heard that. I would suggest though that hair perms contain chemicals that can leach in to the body through the scalp and are in general not beneficial especially if pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Avoid them. Anencephaly has multiple causes and at best chemicals may contribute...Have seen no evidence yet they are causal. ...Read more

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Does anyone know if anencephaly is a genetic disease?

Not genetic: We don't know why anencephaly happens, but it is not genetic. It may be in part due to a mother not having enough Folic Acid in her diet. ...Read more

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What is the difference between spina bifida and anencephaly?

The position: The developing brain and spinal cord go through a predictable pattern. The primitive neural tissue folds on itself to begin forming the spinal elements. It actually closes the fold starting in the middle and progresses toward the top and bottom. Like closing a zipper from the middle out. If the fold doesn't close at the tom, anencephaly develops. If it doesn't close at the bottom. Spina bifida. ...Read more

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I get little sweaty at night sometimes & im 8wks preg with Hx of anencephaly bubs. Worried my body temp increase may cause damage to baby? Winter here

I get little sweaty at night sometimes & im 8wks preg with Hx of anencephaly bubs. Worried my body temp increase may cause damage to baby? Winter here

Body temperature: Small fluctuations in body temperature are a normal part of physiology and are not a known cause of fetal abnormalities. ...Read more