What is Anencephaly

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Sep 27, 2012

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Quick Bites

  • Anencephaly occurs when the neural tube doesn't close properly.
  • In this condition, major part of brain is missing.
  • These brain parts are cerebrum and cerebellum.
  • They are responsible for responsible for your thinking and senses.


When during the embryonic development, the major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp is absent, the condition is known as anecephaly. Sometimes, during the 23rd and 26th day of conception, the head of the neural tube of the embryo doesn’t close. This neural tube defect results into the cephalic disorder called anencephaly.

Neural tube is defined as a layer of cells that develop into the brain and spinal cord and because anencephaly is caused due to the defect in neural tube, and so it is characterised as a neural tube defect (NTD).

What is Anencephaly

When the neural tube remains unsuccessful to close properly, the amniotic fluid surrounding the foetus covers the developing brain and spinal cord. The nervous system tissue degenerates because of this exposure.

This is why large parts of brain are missing in people affected by this disease. These brain parts are cerebrum and cerebellum. These two brain parts are responsible for a person’s thinking, hearing, vision, emotion, and coordinating movement. Even skull bones are missing or aren’t found completely.

Anencephaly causes death to almost all babies born with it either before birth or sometime after it.

Anencephaly is one of the most common types of neural tube defect and affects about 1 in 1,000 pregnancies. Most of these pregnancies end up getting miscarried, so not many babies are born with this condition. In the US, an estimated 1 in 10,000 infants is born with anencephaly.

Image Source: Getty


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