Anencephaly: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Symptoms
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Anencephaly is a serious rare disease present at the birth of a child. It is a kind of birth defect in children. Anencephaly prevents the healthy development of the brain and the bones of the skull. In this condition, the brain is not fully formed. Sometimes it lacks the arts of the cerebrum. The cerebrum is the area of the brain used for thinking, seeing, hearing, touch, and movement.
Anencephaly is the type of neural tube defect (NTD). The neural tube helps form the child’s brain and skull and also other parts like the spinal cord, and backbones. In anencephaly, neural tubes fail to close, So it will directly affect the cerebrum of the brain. Sometimes anencephaly leads to nervous system failure. Because of this, most of the babies with anencephaly die before birth or within a few hours of delivery.
How common is anencephaly?
As per records of CDC ( Center For Diseases Control ) anencephaly occurs in 3 of 10000 pregnancies in united states every year. However, we can not estimate the exact number because in most of the cases a child died during a miscarriage in pregnancies. In most cases, Those who are born with anencephaly hardly live a few days or weeks.
The most asked question about anencephaly is ” What causes anencephaly? ” However, the causes of anencephaly in most cases are unknown. But, in medical research, some of these factors have been identified, which are as follows:
- Many babies affected by anencephaly because of change in genes or chromosomes.
- It might be caused by the combination of genes and other factors.
- In babies, it takes 28 to 30 days to form the complete neural tube after conception But in some cases, if all or a part of the neural tube fails to close, then it creates neural tube defects (NTD) which lead to anencephaly.
- If a pregnant woman is not getting enough Folic acid, then it might lead to NTD. So it is advised to take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid to avoid NTD.
- Many other factors are also there that can cause anencephaly, such as a mother’s exposure to a particular toxic environment.
- The medicine a mother used during pregnancy can cause an anencephaly.
- Even the food and beverages and having a high fever or hot tub bath can cause anencephaly in children.
- In most of the cases, children’s parents have no history of anencephaly
Anencephaly Diagnosis and Symptoms
Anencephaly diagnosis can be done during pregnancy or immediately after a baby is born. There are few tests through which we can diagnose whether a baby is affected with anencephaly or not. Which are as follows:
Here are a few tests that can be performed before a baby is in the womb.
- Anencephaly ultrasound: This test is done after 14 weeks of pregnancy, During a high-frequency test ultrasound creates images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs of a baby. This test also shows the flow of blood vessels in the womb through this doctors can find neural tube defect in a baby. Prenatal ultrasound is a cost-effective and quick method to identify anencephaly. This process gives approximately 100% result.
- Blood test: In this test, the doctor evaluates the level of alpha-fetoprotein and other things in the blood. This test can be performed for 16 to 18 weeks of pregnancy. AFA is a protein which is responsible for a baby to grow in the womb. This result of this test is not conclusive. However, this test will show that if you need another test for anencephaly.
- Amniocentesis: In this test, the doctor removes a small quantity of amniotic fluid from your womb. Basically, amniotic is fluid which surrounds a baby in the womb and contains cells of the baby and is used to find abnormalities in the baby. This test will let you know that, you should continue your pregnancy or not.
Doctors can diagnose anencephaly after the baby is born by physical examination. The baby’s head often appears flattened after born. In some cases, a portion of the scalp is missing with the skull.
By methods as mentioned earlier, we can diagnose if a baby has anencephaly or not.
There is no method to cure anencephaly. If a baby’s any part of the skull is missing and exposed, then cover it with warm. Their life will be no longer a few days.
Here are some tips for anencephaly prevention
- As per CDC suggestion, a pregnant woman should take 400 micrograms of folic acid, So this will decrease chances of defects in the neural tube.
- Discuss your genetic and medical history with health counselor so they can prescribe you accordingly.\
- Have some leafy green vegetables, nuts, beans, citrus fruits, and fortified breakfast cereals. These contain a large amount of folic acid.
- Make sure you are taking a test periodically for a growing baby.
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