A South African baby was born on July 4 with his brain on the outside of his head. Named Sibusiso Mokoena, and nicknamed baby Mokoena in his native country, he passed away after only three weeks.
The doctor on duty during the time of the baby's death, Dr. Ntumba Mutondo, said that she tried to give him CPR, but could not resuscitate him.
Doctors reported that the infant was born with a condition called anencephaly, which is what the cause of his death was. Anencephaly is the most common neural tube disorder (disorders that affect the tissue in the spine and brain), and is characterized by an absence of a large part of the skull and the brain as well as heart and facial deformities. The condition is said to affect 1 in 10,000 births worldwide, and 1 in 4,859 births in the United States alone. However, the number of fetuses anencephaly affects is unknown, because the majority of such pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Though there are quite a few tests that can be done to predict the presence of the condition, anencephaly unfortunately occurs very early in fetal development, during the first month after conception and implantation before the time when most women are aware that they are pregnant.
While the exact cause of the condition is unknown, research indicates that it is caused by environmental toxins or lack of folic acid in the mother's diet. It occurs when the neural tube fails to close. Giving birth to one baby with anencephaly increases the chance of getting pregnant with another infant with anencephaly.
The majority of infants born with the condition do not live that long. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Hispanic mothers are at increased risk for giving birth to infants with anencephaly, for reasons that are as of yet unclear.