All newborns in Minnesota are now being screened for a treatable disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), unless their parents don’t want them checked for it. Sondra Rosendahl with the state Health Department says a new FDA-approved treatment can significantly modify the course of the disease. Rosendahl says, “Children who without treatment would never be able to sit without support, or die within the first few years of life, are now riding tricycles and are being able to meet some of these ‘motor milestones’ that they never would have achieved otherwise.” Rosendahl says it’s important to know as soon as possible if an infant has the disease. “The earlier you can find it, the better the outcomes will be for these children,” she says.
State officials say newborn screening — now for 61 potential conditions — saves lives and reduces serious health problems for a significant number of the nearly 70-thousand babies born in Minnesota every year.