All newborns should be screened for the serious disease SMA, according to the National Board of Health and Welfare. Children with the disease often die before the 2nd anniversary without treatment.

The National Board of Health and Welfare recommends that all newborns should be tested to detect whether they have a predisposition for the severe muscle disease SMA. Archive image.
The National Board of Health and Welfare recommends that all newborns should be tested to detect whether they have a predisposition for the severe muscle disease SMA. Archive image.

The very serious but rare disease spinal muscle atrophy, SMA, causes nerve cells that control muscles to break down. As a result, the muscles atrophy.

There are today several medicines that can stop the disease progress and improve the chances of children surviving significantly. In order for the drugs good effect to be given they are given early in the course, preferably before the children get symptoms. By introducing screening of all newborns, the National Board of Health and Welfare expects to detect about seven children every year who can receive early treatment.

According to the proposal from the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, which is now due for referral, the testing will be carried out at the end of the summer. This will be done in conjunction with the so-called PKU test taken on all newborn children in Sweden and where a further 25 diseases with serious and extensive consequences can be detected.

SMA is a hereditary disease and in the vast majority of cases both parents are required to have a predisposition for the child to get the disease.

Facts: Spinal muscle atrophy

Spinal muscle atrophys (SMA) are a group of hereditary diseases. They are characterized by motor nerve cells in the middle brain, extended marrow and spinal cord breaking down.

The breakdown of nerve cells leads to muscle weakness and muscle loss (atrophy)

SMA occurs in different degrees of difficulty and the prognosis is different for different forms of SMA. At the most difficult forms the children often die in the newborn period or during the first years of life.

Treatment for spinal muscle atrophy is aimed at relieving symptoms and compensating for the disabilities that occur.

Source: National Board of Health and Welfare