Thursday, April 26, 2007


Anencephaly is one of the most severe forms of a neural tube defect (NTD). A child born with this particular NTD will not live. They will either be still born or live for a couple of hours and then pass away. There have been some rare instances that the child has lived for days or weeks. This disorder occurs in 1 in every 1,000 live births. There is no cure or treatment for anencephaly and the cause is not known. It is believed that folic acid plays a part in preventing not only anencephaly but most NTD as well.

The neural tube is a developing structure that becomes the brain, skull and spine. Anencephaly occurs when the top portion of the neural tube doesn't close. The result is that the skull doesn't form and therefore the brain is exposed to the amniotic fluid which doesn't let the brain form. The child usually has just the portion of the brain responsible for breathing and staying alive. The infant is born without a forebrain, the thinking and coordinating area, and are usually blind, deaf, unconscious and unable to feel pain. The child may exhibit reflex actions such as respiration and response to touch and sound.

more info

Folic Acid

Folic acid is important in the body's ability to make healthy new cells for a fetus. Scientist's are unable to determine how folic acid works in pregnancy but they know that it's important to form cells needed to for a baby's brain, spine, organs, skin and bone. Birth defect's of a fetus's brain and spinal cord happen in the first weeks of pregnancy often before a woman know's that she is pregnant. Therefore it is important to take folic acid before she plans to get pregnant.

Folic acid is of the B-Complex vitamins important in correct neural tube development. The recomended daily dosage for women who are in childbearing age is 400 micrograms and for women who have had a child with a neural tube defect, the doctor can precribe taking 4 to 5 miligrams a day. Studies have shown that taking folic acid before getting pregnant resulted in 70% of all neural tube defects being prevented.

Folic acid is found in many leafy, green vegtables, orange juice, dried beans and peas. It is difficult to get enough folic acid by diet alone. Cooking can wash out some of the folates and with cereals fortified with folic acid the folates can be lost in the milk if it's not drank. In the USA, many of the grain products are fortified with folic acid.

Friday, April 20, 2007

My own experience

When i found out that the child that i was carrying had anencephaly, i went into shock. I couldn't believe that this was happening to me. It was hard coming to the realization that i would have to make the decision to have a "therapuetic abortion" or bring my child to full term and watch him die. I chose the abortion, I don't think that I could have standed carrying a child to term and then watch as he took his last breath.

Anencephaly is not widely known about and I don't think that many people understand the full meaning of what the parents go through. I was about 4 months pregnant when I found out. I was able to feel the baby kick and move around, so it was really hard to understand that there was something wrong with him, especially since I had such a normal pregnancy. I found out about the NTD through a test called the AFP (alpha-fetoprotien) which is taken at 16 to 18 weeks. They then sent me to get a Level 2 ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. more info Once they told me that basically my child was going to die no matter what, we found a name for him and then set up the appointment to have induced delivery. I still wanted to see him and say goodbye.

When I went of the internet to see what he might look like, the picture's where frightening, they looked like monsters. I think that these pics are the worst case scenario. When I saw my child he looked fine. His body was perfectly formed and there was just a slight depression in the skull. I'm glad that I saw him, if I didn't I believe that in my mind i would have pictured one of those horrible children on the internet. I think that going through this has made me a better person.