According to the Genetics Home Reference at the US National Library of Medicine, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a “genetic disorder that affects the control of muscle movement” and “is caused by a loss of specialized nerve cells in the spinal cord and the part of the brain that is connected to the spinal cord.” This loss of nerve cells leads the muscles used for activities such as crawling, walking, and sitting to weaken and waste away. Breathing and swallowing may be affected in severe cases. There are many types of SMA, which can be distinguished by the pattern of features, severity of muscle weakness, and the age of the person when the issues with their muscles began. There is no cure for SMA. Treatments can help to manage the symptoms and to prevent complications. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has information on treatment, prognosis, and clinical trials for SMA.
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