When does a fetal brain turn on?

Encephalocele: Isabella (4) defied her death prognosis

Isabella's parents had contacted a funeral home even before their baby was born. Because the terrible diagnosis they received in the 20th week of pregnancy gave their unborn daughter only a minimal chance of survival. Encephalocele was almost the death sentence for Isabella.

"If I can spend even a few minutes with my daughter, I would be happy," thought Sharlotte Grote from Minot, North Dakota when she was diagnosed with encephalocele four years ago for her baby. But abortion was out of the question for the parents Sharlotte and Jim, so they described the experience of the British newspaper Daily Mail.

Today Isabella Grote is four years old and a happy child who lives well with encephalocele. With this malformation, the fetus's brain grows outside the head. Through a gap in the skull, the brain bulges outwards in a sack filled with fluid. This malformation is extremely rare, affecting about one in 10,000 babies each year in the United States.

"We were shocked"

Isabella was diagnosed with the defect during a routine prenatal examination. At first everything looked good, then in the evening the doctor called to change everything. Something was wrong with the baby, they said. "We were shocked, our baby was only given a 25 percent chance to live more than a few days. Even then - we were warned - it would be severely disabled," said Sharlotte, describing her feelings in the Daily Mail.

Sharlotte, 40, and Jim, 49, who still have two older children, were referred to an expert who was eight hours' drive from their home. At first, the doctors couldn't even tell which parts of the brain were affected. Later, extensive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed that only a small part of the brain grew outside of the head.

Caesarean section survived - first hurdle cleared

Isabella was born by caesarean section one month before the expected due date. It was a small miracle that she had survived the birth because the doctors had feared that the baby would not be able to breathe on its own. The probability that she would live at least a few days was only 50 percent. "Although we didn't know if Isabella would have any developmental problems in the future, we were so happy that our little girl was alive," said Sharlotte.

"The sack on the back of her head"

Nevertheless, the mother was upset: "When I saw her for the first time, I was shocked, all I saw was the sack on the back of her head."

Encephalocele is a defective brain structure in which the brain bulges outward like a sack outside the skull. It occurs when the neural tube that forms the brain and spinal cord does not close during the early development of the fetus. Possible damages include: fluid in the brain, loss of strength in the arms and legs, an unusually small head, developmental delays, vision problems, poor physical condition, and seizures.

Three days later, the doctors were able to successfully remove the protrusion, which contained almost nothing but fluid, and insert this small part of her brain into the skull. This operation saved her life. In addition, the doctors were able to convey the good news to the parents that Isabella would not show any further abnormalities.

All milestones passed

Isabella is now celebrating her fourth birthday, she can walk and talk and enjoys going to preschool. Her parents and siblings were able to experience the milestones of their development with her, which they had never dared to hope for.

Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.