The strange case of Noah, the brainless child
Once again, reality again surpasses fiction. When Rob, 50, and Shelly, 44, were told that their 12-week-old son was born with a tremendous physical disability, doctors recommended that they prepare for the worst.
Noah, as the couple's baby is called, was virtually brainless. From the first radiographs an abnormality of fetal development was detected due to a dysfunction between spina bifida and hydrocephalus. The result: the combination of those medical complications they had left him with only 2% brain function .
The unusual thing is that despite this very important deficit, Noah has continued to grow and learn, a fact that has produced that his is known as a case of "child without a brain" whose physical and intellectual development progresses amazingly.
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What is spina bifida and hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is another symptom of poor brain formation, which depends directly on spina bifida. This is an excess of cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull. Literally, hydrocephalus means "water in the brain." In the case of Noah, the pressure exerted by this substance can cause the brain not to be well formed by having much less space to develop.
On the other hand, spina bifida is a genetic degeneration that affects the malformation of the spinal cord, the brain or even the meninges (the protective layer that covers the brain). Is a neural tube defect very common among babies , especially in Western countries, where some couples agree to conceive children in advanced age.
Incredible as it may seem and despite the great advance and exponential development of science and research, medical experts The exact causes of spina bifida remain unknown . In other words, it's a mystery.
Extensive studies and investigations have been carried out to solve the problem, but nobody knows what causes the complete closure of the neural tube to be interrupted, causing the aforementioned malformations. Only some scientists have pointed to some environmental, nutritional or even genetic factors to give a solid approach. The mother's diet during pregnancy, the environment or the genetic inheritance can play a crucial role in the malformation of the baby's brain.
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Why is Noah extraordinary?
"We started to organize and prepare the funeral while she was pregnant," says the mother. The doctors gave her not months or years, but days of life directly after birth, and on several occasions they recommended an abortion.
Tests and x-rays showed that in Noah's skull there was an excess of fluid , above the amount of normal gray matter. To be a bit more graphic, the size of the baby's skull was no larger than that of a grapefruit.
However, the parents went ahead and believed in their son. Even though the doctors did not give him more than three weeks of life, Noah is on track to turn 5 , going from a brain capacity of 2 to 70 percent.
Not only is he able to walk, start talking or play , but also its development follows a more than favorable course, destined to become one more child within humanity. To this day, the case of Noah is still a miracle and is the object of study for health professionals, university theses and other research.
Other cases like Noah's
Although it supposes an uncommon fact, Noah is not the unique remarkable case. Michelle Mack, around 40 years old, was born with half a brain . The most curious thing is that her anomaly was not detected until she turned 27, having lived a normal life and being a university graduate.
More surreal and incredible is another case detected in the United Kingdom. An anonymous student from the University of Sheffield went to the doctor for a severe headache. The doctor noted that his head was a little above normal size for his age. He decided to investigate further and did an X-ray. The result was surprising: he had so much fluid in his head that it had virtually wiped out his entire brain. But here comes the most extraordinary. The student in question is a gifted person, with an IQ close to 140 and a degree in Mathematics with honors.
How is the case of the child without a brain explained?
Of course, statistics say that mortality among people with an abnormally underdeveloped brain is much higher than average, and babies born with this kind of severe neurodevelopmental problems often die before reaching adolescence. So ... how do you explain Noah's case? How could he survive without hardly having a brain? The answer is something that is known as brain plasticity .
This phenomenon consists of the capacity of our brain when it comes to physically adapting to situations, developing in a way that allows us to survive. Here the key is not so much in the number of neurons, but in how they are organized among them. Thus, plasticity can be understood as a kind of computer program that learns in real time to deal with totally new problems for which technically it has not been programmed (in this case, a combination of diseases). You sound familiar? It is the same principle as intelligence, but on a neurological level.
Thus, the case of Noah is one more example of the extent to which the human body is able to use its resources to stay afloat, even when the available means are less than what is expected, and how it is "building" a healthy organism. from there.
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