State Adds Spinal Muscular Atrophy to Newborn Screening Program

March 05, 2018 05:37 PM

The state of Minnesota has added the leading genetic cause of early-childhood death to its newborn screening program in an effort at early detection and treatment. 

The Minnesota Department of Health said in a release Monday all newborn babies in the state will now be screened for spinal muscular atrophy unless parents choose to opt out. 

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RELATED: Advisory Committee Recommends SMA be Added to Newborn Screenings Panel

Parents of children diagnosed with the disease had little hope prior to the FDA approval last year of a drug that can effectively modify its course, according to the release. The MDH says it then added the condition to the newborn screening program because early treatment can produce better outcomes.

“Adding SMA to the state’s newborn screening panel is an important move that will help save families from the heartbreak of losing a child or losing precious time where treating their child could result in better outcomes,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

The condition affects as many as one in every 6,000 live births in the country each year, according to the release. If untreated, children could develop “progressive muscle weakness, loss of motor milestones like sitting or crawling, loss of the ability to swallow and breathe, and death,” the release states. 

The health department says that if a child is diagnosed, the family is referred to either Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, Mayo Clinic or the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. 

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Michael Oakes

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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