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    Anencephaly

    Important
    It is possible that the main title of the report Anencephaly is not the name you expected.

    Disorder Subdivisions

    • None

    General Discussion

    Summary
    Anencephaly is a term that refers to the incomplete development of the brain, skull, and scalp and is part of a group of birth defects called neural tube defects (NTD). The structure which will become the neural tube is supposed to fold and to close together (to form a tube) during the third and fourth weeks of pregnancy. From this neural tube, the brain and spinal cord of the embryo develop. Neural tube defects happen when the neural tube does not close as expected. Anencephaly occurs when the end of the neural tube that would have developed into the brain does not close properly, resulting in the failure of the development of major portions of brain, skull and scalp. Other neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, form when the neural tube does not close properly in a different part of the neural tube.

    Infants with anencephaly are born without the front part of the brain, (forebrain) and the thinking and coordinating part of the brain (cerebral hemispheres and cerebellum). Most of the time the remaining brain tissue may be exposed, without skull or scalp to cover and protect it. Although reflex actions such as breathing and responses to touch or sound may occur, gaining consciousness is not possible. Usually infants with anencephaly do not survive more than a few days or weeks.

    Introduction
    Meroanencephaly and holoanencephaly are terms refer to the extent of the cranial defect, however, they typically are not used in clinical descriptions and are not predictive of severity of the condition. The term acrania has been used interchangeably with anencephaly in some parts of the world but that practice is discouraged as it confuses two very different conditions.

    Resources

    NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    P.O. Box 5801
    Bethesda, MD 20824
    Tel: (301)496-5751
    Fax: (301)402-2186
    Tel: (800)352-9424
    TDD: (301)468-5981
    Internet: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

    NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
    31 Center Dr
    Building 31, Room 2A32
    MSC2425
    Bethesda, MD 20892
    Fax: (866)760-5947
    Tel: (800)370-2943
    TDD: (888)320-6942
    Email: NICHDInformationResourceCenter@mail.nih.gov
    Internet: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/

    Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc.
    976 Lake Baldwin Lane
    Orlando, FL 32814
    USA
    Tel: (407)895-0802
    Email: staff@birthdefects.org
    Internet: http://www.birthdefects.org

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
    PO Box 8126
    Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
    Tel: (301)251-4925
    Fax: (301)251-4911
    Tel: (888)205-2311
    TDD: (888)205-3223
    Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

    Infants Remembered In Silence, Inc. (IRIS)
    112 Third Street NE
    Faribault, MN 55021
    Tel: (507)334-4748
    Fax: (507)334-4748
    Email: support@irisremembers.com
    Internet: http://www.irisRemembers.com

    Fetal Hope Foundation
    9786 South Holland Street
    Littleton, CO 80127
    USA
    Tel: (303)932-0553
    Tel: (877)789-4673
    Email: info@fetalhope.org
    Internet: http://www.fetalhope.org

    Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support, Inc.
    402 Jackson Street
    Saint Charles, MO 63301
    Tel: (636)947-6164
    Fax: (636)947-7486
    Tel: (800)821-6819
    Email: info@nationalshare.org
    Internet: http://www.nationalshare.org

    For a Complete Report:

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

    The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

    It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

    This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

    For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site www.rarediseases.org or email orphan@rarediseases.org

    Last Updated: 8/1/2012
    Copyright 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1999, 2002, 2009, 2012 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

    WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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