An 8-month-old baby girl who was born blind and without a skull is being cared for on Christmas by Buddhist monks in Thailand.
Nurafaiha is from Sayaburi, Thailand, and requires special care during feeding. She cannot take milk normally and has to be fed through a tube, the Daily Mail reports.
Being born without parts of the brain and skull is called anencephaly. In the U.S., about 3 pregnancies in every 10,000 per year have the severe birth defect, according to the CDC.
The cause of anencephaly for most infants is unknown, but in some cases it occurs because of a change in their genes or chromosomes. It could also be caused by contact the mother has in the environment, what she drinks or eats, or certain medications she takes while pregnant. A low intake of folic acid before becoming pregnant or during the early stages of pregnancy may increase the risk of a neural tube defect such as anencephaly.
It has not been revealed whether Nurafaiha has anencephaly, although her lack of a skull makes it possible. If she does have this rare birth defect, then there is no known cure or standard treatment, and almost all babies born with anencephaly will die shortly after birth.
Nurafaiha is in need of regular hospital treatments and several operations on her face and skull, according to the Daily Mail.
Nurafaiha’s family has four other children who all attend school, which is a challenge given the father, who earns a low wage in a factory, is their only means of financial support.
Her case has become known thanks to social media, where Monk Bhin and a foundation have been using Facebook to appeal for assistance to the family. To date, more than $5,500 has been raised through foundation funds and people on social media.
Monk Bhin and the foundation often assist poor families with special needs.