What is Spinal Muscular Atrophy?
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a scary condition that can have life altering effects. It is important for you to know the early warning signs of spinal muscular atrophy so that you can recognize it. We will also discuss the causes, symptoms, and different types of spinal muscular atrophy. This article will also answer a few questions that one may have about SMA, including “What causes spinal muscle atrophy?” and “What are the symptoms of spinal muscular atrophy?”
SMA affects the motor nerve cells in the spine. This can affect a person in many ways. However, it typically prevents people from eating, walking, and/or breathing. It is also the leading genetic cause for infant mortality.
What Causes Muscular Atrophy?
In order to understand SMA it is useful to first understand muscular atrophy. Atrophy is when a muscle becomes weak and eventually wastes away. There are various causes of muscular atrophy, but the underlying cause is when the muscle is not active enough.
Researchers have sought to discover what disease causes muscle atrophy. There are various diseases that can cause muscular atrophy, but SMA is a genetic disease that prevents an individual from using their muscles. People who suffer from SMA are unable to product a certain protein that is responsible for muscle control. Without this protein, their muscles begin to slowly waste away.
Types of Spinal Muscular Atrophy
There are four types of SMA that can be diagnosed. The type depends on the age of the inflicted individual and the highest developmental milestone they reached when they received their diagnosis. The difference between SMA 1 vs SMA 2 is that SMA 1 is typically more fatal.
An SMA type 1 diagnosis is the most common. It is severe and occurs during the first six months of life. Babies with an SMA type 1 diagnosis show very little muscle tone and are unable to sit up without support. Luckily, medical advancements are extending the lives of infants who are diagnosed with SMA 1.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy Symptoms
SMA can be difficult to diagnose, but if you pay attention and know what to look for, you can recognize it. The different types may present themselves in different ways, but they share the same underlying properties. The following symptoms are five signs that your child might have SMA:
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty eating
- Decreased muscle tone
- Erratic and spontaneous tongue movement
SMA is a genetic disease that can be fatal. It is caused by a mutation that prevents an specific protein from being produced inside of the afflicted individual. This protein enables muscle movement. Without this protein the muscles get weak and eventually deteriorate.
SMA can be difficult to diagnose, especially because it occurs at a very young age. The aforementioned symptoms are good indicators that a child may have SMA. Watching out for these and identifying them early may save a child’s life.