Holoprosencephaly is a disorder caused by the failure of the prosencephalon (the embryonic forebrain) to sufficiently divide into the double lobes of the cerebral hemispheres. The result is a single-lobed brain structure and severe skull and facial defects. In most cases of holoprosencephaly, the malformations are so severe that babies die before birth. In less severe cases, babies are born with normal or near-normal brain development and facial deformities that may affect the eyes, nose, and upper lip. There are three classifications of holoprosencephaly. Alobar, in which the brain has not divided at all, is usually associated with severe facial deformities. Semilobar, in which the brain's hemispheres have somewhat divided, causes an intermediate form of the disorder. Lobar, in which there is considerable evidence of separate brain hemispheres, is the least severe form. In some cases of lobar holoprosencephaly the baby's brain may be nearly normal.

There is no standard course of treatment for holoprosencephaly. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive.

The prognosis for individuals with the disorder depends on the severity of the brain and facial deformities.

Prepared by the National Institutes of Health