Recognising the signs
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare, debilitating genetic disorder; a neuromuscular disease that affects the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement.
It affects a person’s muscular development and the severity depends on the type of SMA one has.
The earlier the symptoms are noticed, the more severe the condition is.
Type One (severe) Affecting children in the womb or shortly after birth (within six months).
Infants will have severe muscle weakness, poor swallowing reflexes and difficulties breathing. 95% will not live past their second birthday.
Type Two (Intermediate) Begins to affect children between six and 18 months old. Symptoms include failure or delays in meeting motor milestones. Can sit up but cannot walk. Shortened life expectancy.
Type Three (Mild)
Begins to affect children as early as 18 months or as late as adolescence. Children are initially able to stand and walk but will grow weaker and many need to use a wheelchair. Chewing and swallowing may be affected later. Normal life expectancy.
The adult form of the disorder. Symptoms start after 35 and slowly get worse over time. Because it develops slowly, many people don’t know that they have it until years after symptoms begin.
Life expectancy is normal.