What is Anencephaly?

Anencephaly is a developmental defect of part of the embryonic nervous system known as the neural tube.  A lack of closure of this structure very early in development (usually before a woman even knows that she is pregnant) leads to anencephaly. 

The defect that occurs leads to improper formation of the skull.  Essentially, the top of the head is left opened.  This leaves brain tissue exposed to amniotic fluid, which over time is destructive to the major portion of the brain (the cerebrum).  Babies with anencephaly do still have a functioning brainstem, which controls involuntary functions such as the heart beat and breathing. 

While in the womb, babies with anencephaly grow and develop very normally.  Like Anastasha, they are often quite active.  Most of these babies survive the birth process, but the large majority live outside the womb for only minutes to hours.

In most cases the cause of anencephaly is unknown, although a deficiency of folic acid in a pregnant woman's diet is one potential cause.  In Tonya's case, this did not apply since she was on a prenatal vitamin before she was pregnant.

Reports of the incidence of anencephaly vary widely.  This is most likely due to the very high (greater than 90%) abortion rate for women given this diagnosis. 

We believe firmly that babies with anencephaly are created by God in His Image.  And, as such, they are endowed with an eternal soul by their Creator.  Despite their brief lives on this earth, they are as precious, as valuable, and as loved by God as any other person.  We pray you will see their lives by that same truth.

For a wonderful website that answers frequently asked questions about anencephaly, please click here.