Illustration of an anencephalic fetus
SpecialtyMedical genetics; pediatrics
SymptomsAbsence of the cerebrum and cerebellum
Risk factorsFolic acid deficiency
PreventionMother taking enough folic acid
PrognosisDeath typically occurs within hours to days after birth.
Frequency1 in 4600 in the U.S.

Anencephaly is the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp that occurs during embryonic development.[1] It is a cephalic disorder that results from a neural tube defect that occurs when the rostral (head) end of the neural tube fails to close, usually between the 23rd and 26th day following conception.[2] Strictly speaking, the Greek term translates as "without a brain" (or totally lacking the inside part of the head), but it is accepted that children born with this disorder usually only lack a telencephalon,[3] the largest part of the brain consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres, including the neocortex, which is responsible for cognition. The remaining structure is usually covered only by a thin layer of membrane—skin, bone, meninges, etc., are all lacking.[4] With very few exceptions,[5] infants with this disorder do not survive longer than a few hours or days after birth.

  1. ^ "Cephalic disorders – Overview, Anencephaly, Colpocephaly – neurologychannel". September 3, 2015. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  2. ^ O'Rahilly, M; Muller, F (1992). Human Embryology & Teratology. New York: Wiley-Liss, Inc. p. 253. ISBN 978-0471382256.
  3. ^ Chervenak, F.A.; Kurjak, A.; Comstock, C.H. (1995). Ultrasound and the Fetal Brain: Progress in Obstetric and Gynecological Sonography Series (1st publ ed.). New York: Parthenon Pub. Group. p. 102. ISBN 978-1850706120.
  4. ^ "Anencephaly Information Page: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)". Archived from the original on 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  5. ^ "Baby Without A Brain, Nickolas Coke, Update". Archived from the original on 2012-09-14.

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