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What is anencephaly and how to prevent it?

Q: My wife started gaining a lot of weight during the fifth month of pregnancy. I forced her to get a sonography done. In sonography it was found that she had Anencephaly. I don't know the meaning of this, but they told me that child is abnormal because his Skull Cap is not there. The doctors asked me to drop the idea of a delivery and advised an abortion or early delivery in the fifth month. My wife gave birth to an abnormal baby in the fifth month. I want know the reason of the birth of an abnormal baby? Is it a genetic problem? Will my next child be abnormal too?

A:Anencephaly is a congenital anomaly of multifactorial origin. The role played by genetic factors has not been elucidated so far. Nutritional factors are unquestionably also involved. The best advice that can be given to women in order to prevent the occurrence of this type of anomaly during a later pregnancy is to take one tablet of multivitamins and 1 to 2 mg of folic acid every day, starting as soon as one attempts to become pregnant and continuing until the end of pregnancy. Preferably, the multivitamin tablet and the folic acid should have been taken for 1-2 months before the pregnancy starts. There is, if this treatment is adhered to, little risk that anencephaly should complicate your wife's following pregnancies.

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