Monday, August 13, 2012

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Awareness Month

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By Nurse Diane

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a group of inherited diseases that cause muscle damage and weakness, which get worse over time and eventually lead to death.  This disease is mainly present at birth, but type II can be noticed anywhere from 6 months to 2 years of age.  Type III SMA can also be seen during adolescence, but types II and III are a milder form of the disease.
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Infants born with SMA have very little muscle tone. Often is first felt in the shoulder and leg muscles. Weakness gets worse over time and eventually becomes severe.
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Symptoms in an infant include:
  • Breathing difficulty, leading to a lack of oxygen
  • Feeding difficulty (food may go into the windpipe instead of the stomach)
  • Floppy infant (poor muscle tone)
  • Lack of head control
  • Little movement
  • Weakness that gets worse
  • Symptoms in a child:
  • Frequent, increasingly severe respiratory infections
  • Nasal speech
  • Posture that gets worse

There is no treatment yet for this disease.  Prognosis is usually about 2 or 3 years.  Death can occur from pneumonia or heart failure.

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This month is Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month.  To learn what you can do to promote this disease and show support, click on this site:

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