Spinal muscular atrophy is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the misfiring of neurons in the spine from the lack of an essential protein. This leads to atrophy (wasting away) of the skeletal muscles as well as overall weakness, explains the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
The disease has one umbrella name, but there are many incarnations of it. In fact, according to CureSMA.org, no two cases of spinal muscular atrophy are experienced quite the same. The intensity and the onset can vary from patient to patient, adds the source. Let’s take a closer look at this disease, as August is SMA awareness month…
According to CureSMA.org, there are more than 4-types of this disease that each carry its own symptoms. Type I is the most common and can affect infants younger than 6-months, according to the source. This can lead to difficulty breathing and swallowing.
Type II is marked by missing motor function milestones and is diagnosed a little later but still usually before 2-years of age, explains the site. Type III can appear before 3-years of age (and sometimes into teenage years), and it makes it more difficult to walk as time goes on. Type IV is “very rare” and can cause “mild motor impairment” in adulthood.