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Congenital Brain Anomalies

September 13, 2015


Congenital brain anomalies or defects are classified as abnormalities in the brain that present themselves at birth. They tend to affect the bone and soft tissue in the head and spine and can vary from mild to more severe conditions. Congenital brain anomalies typically result from a disruption in the normal growth of the nervous system. The brain is a very fragile organ that begins to form and slowly develop during the first month after conception. When the development process is disturbed, it can lead to structural defects in the brain and skull. There are several types of congenital brain anomalies, including:

  • Anencephaly
  • Dandy-Walker syndrome
  • Encephalocele
  • Holoprosencephaly
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Megalencephaly
  • Spina bifida

Congenital brain anomalies can stem from genetic and environmental factors, such as gene defects, infection, drug usage, and other types of trauma unborn fetuses may be forced to endure. Symptoms can vary, as each type of anomaly has unique deficiencies. Additionally, some symptoms may not even be obvious until after birth, when the child may display developmental or growth delays. Many children born with congenital brain anomalies can also have cardiovascular conditions, gastrointestinal issues, cleft lip and palate, as well as suffer from seizures. Common symptoms often include headaches, weakness in muscle, vision impairment, and bladder or bowel difficulty.

Many congenital brain anomalies can be treated through symptom relief methods. For instance, children that experience seizures as a result of defects can often control them with anticonvulsant medications. Surgical procedures can also be beneficial for some conditions, such as correcting a defective skull, which can make room for the brain to grow normally. The placement of shunts to drain fluid build-up with hydrocephalus is another example of possible treatment. Choosing the right option for parents and children will ultimately depend on the type and severity of anomaly.