Texas Begins Screening Newborns for Spinal Muscular Atrophy

News Release
News Release
June 1, 2021

News Release
June 1, 2021

The TexasDepartment of State Health Services today adds testing for spinal muscular atrophyto the health screening done for every baby born in Texas. About 1 in 10,000babies are affected by SMA, and this new screening can detect about 95 percentof all SMA cases before symptoms occur.

 

SMA is aninherited condition that affects the cells in the spinal cord that signal themuscles to work. Over time, the muscles get weaker and activities such ascrawling, walking, sitting up and controlling head movements become moredifficult. Severe cases of SMA affect the muscles used for breathing andswallowing and can lead to early death. There is no cure for SMA but there aremultiple FDA-approved treatments available that are effective if the conditionis diagnosed early.

 

“Screening all Texas babies for spinalmuscular atrophy will help identify more than 40 cases a year,” said DSHSCommissioner John Hellerstedt, MD. “Early detection will enable people with SMAto get life changing treatment before symptoms develop.”

The Texas Newborn ScreeningLaboratory tests nearly 800,000 specimens each year for close to 400,000 newborns.A simple heel stick blood sample collected from newborns one to two days afterbirth and again two weeks later enables testing of every Texas baby for 55disorders or medical conditions. Finding and treating these disorders early canprevent serious complications, such as growth problems, developmental delays,deafness, blindness, intellectual disabilities, seizures and sudden or earlydeath.

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(News Media Contact: pressofficer@dshs.texas.gov)