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Colorado’s Board of Health last month added Spinal Muscular Atrophy to the conditions for which newborns must be tested.

“There are few false positives with the test, but there are effective treatments that, if started early enough, prevent or minimize the devastating consequences of this disorder and save families health care costs down the road,” said Daniel Shodell, acting chief medical officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The list of conditions tested at birth includes amino acid disorders, endocrine disorders, fatty acid oxidation disorders, hemoglobinopathies, and cystic fibrosis. Newborns also have their hearing checked and have the amount of oxygen in their blood measured.

SMA affects between three and nine Colorado babies per year, and affects the nerves that control muscles. Afflicted children can have difficulty walking, eating and breathing. Many newborns with Type I SMA die within months, before any diagnosis is made.

The state had also weighed in 2019 whether to also add Pompe Disease, Mucopolysaccharidosis Type 1 and X-linked Adrenal Leukodystrophy to the screening list.

Colorado screens babies once within their first 48 hours of life and again between eight and 14 days of life. Jan. 1 will be the effective date for required SMA screenings.

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