A mother’s exposure to certain environmental toxins, medications, or even foods or beverages may play a role. However, researchers don’t know enough about these potential risk factors yet to provide any guidelines or warnings.
Exposure to high temperatures, whether from a sauna or hot tub or from a high fever, may raise the risk of neural tube defects.
The Cleveland Clinic suggests certain prescription drugs, including some of those used to treat diabetes, may increase the risk for anencephaly. Diabetes and obesity may be risk factors for pregnancy complications, so it’s always ideal to talk with your doctor about any chronic conditions and how they may affect your pregnancy.
One important risk factor related to anencephaly is inadequate intake of folic acid. A lack of this key nutrient may raise your risk of having a baby with other neural tube defects in addition to anencephaly, such as spina bifida. Pregnant women can minimize this risk with folic acid supplements or diet changes.
If you’ve had an infant with anencephaly, your chance of having a second baby with the same condition or a different neural tube defect increases by 4 to 10 percent. Two previous pregnancies affected by anencephaly increase the recurrence rate to about 10 to 13 percent.