Newborn babies will be tested for a deadly disease beginning today. Every baby newly born in Illinois will be tested for Spinal Muscular Atrophy or SMA.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, SMA is a group of hereditary diseases that destroys motor neurons over time and leads to muscle weakness and atrophy.
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike told the Illinois Associated Press that it is the number one genetic cause of death for infants. Ezike says with early interventions and diagnosis, it will help decrease infant mortality rates and help therapy begin as soon as possible.
According to IDPH statistics, SMA effects 1 in 11,000 births. Federal authorities in 2018 added SMA to its list of recommended conditions that newborns be screened for. Illinois officials said it took some time to purchase new equipment, develop testing methods, and alter computer systems to provide laboratory results.