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All newborns in Texas tested for spinal muscular atrophy beginning Tuesday

The Texas Newborn Screening Laboratory tests nearly 800,000 heel stick blood samples annually...
The Texas Newborn Screening Laboratory tests nearly 800,000 heel stick blood samples annually from about 400,000 newborns. (File)
Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 2:56 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) – All newborns in Texas will be screened starting Tuesday for spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, a condition that affects about 1 in every 10,000 babies, the Texas Department of State Health Services said.

“Screening all Texas babies for spinal muscular atrophy will help identify more than 40 cases a year,” said DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD.

“Early detection will enable people with SMA to get life changing treatment before symptoms develop.”

The new screening can detect about 95% of spinal muscular atrophy cases before symptoms appear, state health officials said.

The inherited condition affects cells in the spinal cord that signal muscles to work and over time muscles weaken and such activities as crawling, walking, sitting up and controlling head movements become more difficult.

Severe cases can affect the muscles involved in breathing and swallowing and can lead to death.

No cure exists for SMA, but there are treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that are effective if the condition is diagnosed early, health officials said.

The Texas Newborn Screening Laboratory tests nearly 800,000 heel stick blood samples annually from about 400,000 newborns one to days after birth and again two weeks later for 55 disorders or medical conditions.

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