Encephalocele is a birth defect and occurs rarely. It happens when a part of the foetus’s skull doesn’t close completely during the early pregnancy phase. It is a neural tube defect and part of the brain may protrude through opening in the skull. The opening is in the midline of the upper part of the skull, the area between the forehead and nose, or the back of the skull.
Most encephaloceles are detected right after the birth of the baby, but sometimes there may be some small encephalocele in the nose and forehead region which may go undetected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 375 babies are born with encephalocele each year in the US. This means, that about 1 in every 10, 000 babies is born with the disorder in the US.
To treat encephaloceles, your child will need surgery to place the protruding tissues, brain and cerebral spinal fluid back into the skull and close the opening. However, the surgery isn’t done right after birth. Instead, the baby is allowed anywhere from a few days to a few months to adjust to life outside the womb before we attempt surgery.
Encephaloceles affects about 375 babies yearly in the United States - 20% of whom are stillborn. Babies with an encephalocele stand a one in five chance at survival; and only 21% of babies with an encephalocele survive birth. Of those that are born alive, only half survive.
Location of the encephalocele plays a major factor in the outlook of this birth defect. Babies with a front-type encephalocele are much more likely to survive than those who have an encephalocele on the back of the head. Whereas encephaloceles located on the back of the head are associated with a 55% survival rate.
If a baby has to go under surgery for encephaloceles, their recovery period will depend on factors like their age, size of the protrusion, involvement of brain tissue, location of it, extent of the repair and time spent in surgery.
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