Neonatal spinal muscular atrophy with multiple contractures, bone fractures, respiratory insufficiency and 5q13 deletion

Acta Neuropathol. 2004 May;107(5):475-8. doi: 10.1007/s00401-004-0825-3. Epub 2004 Feb 13.


We present the case of a floppy neonate with marked and generalized weakness, respiratory insufficiency and fetal akinesia deformation sequence. The infant showed multiple joint contractures, two bone fractures and needed mechanical ventilation from birth to death at 16 days of age. Electrophysiological assessment showed electrically unexcitable motor and sensory nerves. Muscle biopsy showed diffuse atrophy of type I and type II fibers. Necropsy confirmed the diagnosis of infantile spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) with severe loss of motor neurons in anterior horns and motor nuclei of brainstem. There were also neuronal loss, gliosis, chromatolysis, ballooned cells, empty cell beds and neuronophagia figures in other brainstem and brain nuclei. Genetic analysis of the patient revealed homozygous deletions of survival motor neuron gene 1 (SMN1) and a single copy of SMN2 in region 5q13. This case confirms that the loss of spinal motor neurons underlies the muscular atrophy in severe cases of 5q SMA. This case also shows that the presence of multiple joint contractures, bone fractures and respiratory insufficiency in SMA in the neonatal period does not necessarily exclude the occurrence of classical deletions in the SMA 5q13 region. Rather, these atypical clinical findings show the extreme severity and prenatal onset of the disease in these SMA cases, which may be related with the occurrence of a single copy of SMN2 gene. More reports of clinically, pathologically and genetically well-documented cases are essential to define the different types of this disease.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 5*
  • Contracture / etiology*
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology*
  • SMN Complex Proteins
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophies of Childhood / complications*
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophies of Childhood / genetics*
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 1 Protein
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 2 Protein


  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • SMN Complex Proteins
  • SMN1 protein, human
  • SMN2 protein, human
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 1 Protein
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 2 Protein