. Children with this disorder are born without a forebrain, the largest part of the brain consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres (which include the neocortex, which is responsible for higher-level cognition, i.e., thinking). The remaining brain tissue is often exposed¡ªnot covered by bone or skin.
can be useful for screening for neural tube defects such as spina bifida or anencephaly.
There is no cure or standard treatment for anencephaly and theprognosis for patients is poor. Most anencephalic babies do not survivebirth, accounting for 55% of non-aborted cases. If the infant is not stillborn, then he or she will usually die within a few hours or days after birth from cardiorespiratory arrest.
In almost all cases, anencephalic infants are not aggressively resuscitated since there is no chance of the infant ever achieving a conscious existence. Instead, the usual clinical practice is to offer hydration, nutrition and comfort measuresand to "let nature take its course". Artificial ventilation, surgery(to fix any co-existing congenital defects), and drug therapy (such as antibiotics) are usually regarded as futile efforts. Clinicians and medical ethicists may view the provision of nutrition and hydration as medically futile.
The cause of anencephaly is disputed. Generally, neural tube defects do not follow direct patterns of heredity, though there is some indirect evidence of inheritance
Studies show that a woman who has had one child with a neural tubedefect such as anencephaly has about a 3% risk of having another childwith a neural tube defect.
It is known that women taking certain medication for epilepsy and women with insulin-dependent diabetes have a higher chance of having a child with a neural tube defect. Genetic counseling is usually offered to women at a higher risk of having a child with a neural tube defect to discuss available testing.
Recent studies have shown that the addition of folic acid to the dietof women of child-bearing age may significantly reduce, although noteliminate, the incidence of neural tube defects. Therefore, it isrecommended that all women of child-bearing age consume 0.4 mg of folicacid daily,
especially those attempting to conceive or who may possibly conceive, as this can reduce the risk to 0.03%.It is not advisable to wait until pregnancy has begun, since by thetime a woman knows she is pregnant, the critical time for the formationof a neural tube defect has usually already passed. A physician mayprescribe even higher dosages of folic acid (4 mg/day) for women whohave had a previous pregnancy with a neural tube defect.
Anencephaly and other physical and mental deformities have also been blamed on a high exposure to such toxins as lead, chromium, mercury, and nickel.
Exposureto depleted uranium is also a possible cause of anencephaly, as well asa host of other fetal deformaties. The risk of infants being born withthis disease is higher in areas where there are high levels of man-madeisotopes and depleted uranium radiation.
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