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An infant with anencephaly.
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.


A fetus lacking all or most of the brain.
[G. an, without, + enkephalos, brain]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


(an?en-sef'a-le) [Gr. an-, not, + enkephalos, the brain]
Congenital absence of the brain and cranial vault, with the cerebral hemispheres missing or reduced to small masses. This condition is incompatible with life. In the U.S., it is present in about 11 births out of 100,000. This defect results from the lack of closure of the anterior neural tube. Like other neural tube defects, the risk for anencephaly can be reduced with folic acid supplementation (800 mg daily) taken by women before and during pregnancy. See: neural tube defect
anencephalicanencephalus (an?en-se'fal-ik) (an?en-sef'a-lus), adjective
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References in periodicals archive ?
And how did it benefit the anencephalic infant to have another couple of months of life in utero, and then five hours of life outside?
The mother was at increased risk of premature delivery because she had given birth to an anencephalic infant a year earlier.
*The board clarified modifications on the 1989 position paper on The Anencephalic Infant as an Organ Source: Medical and Ethical Considerations by adding:
Possible mechanisms for increasing the supply of organs being explored include animal kidneys, anencephalic infant organs, and estate tax credits for organ donations.' Opposition to free market stimuli to increase the supply of kidneys is widespread.
For example, ethics committee members who conclude that it is ethical to donate the organs of an anencephalic infant to patients in need of them must be reminded that current legal definitions of "brain death" do not include anencepahlic infants, and that the possibility of organ transplantation is therefore precluded.
First, it is unclear, on theoretical grounds, why an anencephalic infant born with an intact brain stem should become brain dead if oxygenation and perfusion are maintained.
Whether or not an anencephalic infant, or even a normal infant, is "conscious" or capable of "suffering" is a philosophical question that is empirically unanswerable, if by these terms one means a subjective self-awareness associated with the respective behavioral reaction to environmental stimuli.
An analogy is drawn between this practice and the procedure of cooling the anencephalic infant to preserve viable organs until brain death occurs.
Third, although the anencephalic infant is certainly doomed, if we wait for its expiration under presently accepted guidelines, the potentially life-saving organs will deteriorate and cease to be transplantable.
The common denominator to these defenses is a view of the baby born with anencephaly that almost entirely dismisses his humanity and that asserts "the ability to harm such infants is nonexistent--partly because they don't have any hope of consciousness or mental power, and also because their prognosis is uniformly terminal." [7] The anencephalic infant is viewed as a nonperson at best, subhuman at worst.
Medical ethics, law, and other medical specialists from North America, Europe, Iran, and Australia examine the dead donor rule, the determination of death, and organ transplantation from cadavers, with discussion of brain death and circulatory death; the use of anencephalic infants as organ donors; the sale of cadaveric or live organs; other strategies for increasing the number of available organs, such as presumed consent in organ donation, priority allocation to previously registered donors, the use of prisoners as sources of organs, and kidney paired donation; and the ethics of gaming the system, such as through transplant tourism.
Teresi describes other populations of patients who could be potential organ donors: anencephalic infants and patients in persistent vegetative states (PVS).