I doubt that the majority of Americans have heard of anencephaly. I know I hadn’t. It is a birth defect which affects the neural tube. Part of the brain and skull of a fetus fail to form. This occurs during the first month of pregnancy before the mother knows she is pregnant. If the neural tube does not close all the way, the result is a failure of the frontal brain to develop. Nearly 100 percent of babies born with this birth defect die soon after delivery.
The only known cause is a lack of sufficient folic acid before the woman becomes pregnant. The percentage of anencephaly is higher among Hispanic women, although there is no explanation for the disparity at this time.
For an unknown reason, an increase in the number of cases of anencephaly have been reported in Washington State since 2012. Registered nurse Sara Barron was first to report the increase in numbers. Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy stated that this is a priority for the medical community.
Scientists believe that the cause for the rise in cases of anencephaly have multiple reasons, and that awareness of the situation will aid in the elimination of future cases.
The CDC is fully invested in discovering the cause of these increased numbers. They are concerned about the questions regarding why Washington State should have as many as six times the average in numbers of cases of anencephaly.
By James Turnage
Photo Courtesy of I-5 Design & Manufacture