Spontaneous pregnancy outcome after prenatal diagnosis of anencephaly

BJOG. 2006 Aug;113(8):951-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2006.01014.x. Epub 2006 Jul 7.


Parents are usually told that many anencephalic offspring die in utero or soon after delivery, and many obstetricians offer elective termination of the pregnancy. Following the personal experience of the first author, a personal website was created with the intention of providing information and exchanging views with other parents confronted with a prenatal diagnosis of anencephaly. Data were collected from 211 pregnancies where the parents opted not to terminate pregnancy. These data revealed that polyhydramnios was a feature in 56 (26%) pregnancies, death in utero in 15 (7%) pregnancies, 72 (34%) babies were born prematurely (<37 weeks of gestation), 113 (53%) at term and 21 (10%) after 42 weeks. Stillbirth, presumably resulting from intrapartum death, occurred in 43 (20%) deliveries. One hundred and fifty-three (72%) of anencephalic offspring were liveborn, of those, 103 (67%) died within 24 hours but 6/211 survived 6 or more days (maximum 28 days). Continuation of pregnancy after a diagnosis of anencephaly is medically safe and should be considered as an option.

MeSH terms

  • Anencephaly / diagnosis*
  • Anencephaly / genetics
  • Anencephaly / mortality
  • Female
  • Fetal Death
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pedigree
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*
  • Survival Analysis