The changing natural history of spinal muscular atrophy type 1

Neurology. 2007 Nov 13;69(20):1931-6. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000290830.40544.b9.


Background: Noninvasive ventilation has become increasingly available to spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) patients since the early 1990 s. This is expected to have improved survival for SMA type 1 patients.

Objective: To assess whether there has been a change in survival in patients with SMA type 1 between 1980 and 2006.

Methods: We used deidentified, family-reported data from participants in the International Spinal Muscular Atrophy Patient Registry and obtained additional clinical information through a mail-in questionnaire. One hundred forty-three patients with SMA type 1 were included in the analysis. Survival of patients born in 1995-2006 (n = 78) was compared with that of patients born in 1980-1994 (n = 65), using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards models with age at death as the outcome.

Results: Patients born in 1995 though 2006 had significantly increased survival compared with those born in 1980-1994 (log-rank test, p < 0.001). In a Cox model, patients born in 1995-2006 had a 70% reduction in the risk of death compared with those born in 1980-1994 (hazard ratio [HR] 0.3, 95% CI 0.2-0.5, p < 0.001) over a mean follow-up of 49.9 months (SD 61.1, median 22.0). However, when controlling for demographic and clinical care variables, year of birth was no longer significantly associated with age at death (HR 1.0, 95% CI 0.6-1.8, p = 0.9), whereas ventilation for more than 16 h/d, use of a mechanical insufflation-exsufflation device, and gastrostomy tube feeding showed a significant effect in reducing the risk of death.

Conclusion: Survival in spinal muscular atrophy type 1 patients has increased in recent years, in relation to the growing trend toward more proactive clinical care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophies of Childhood / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophies of Childhood / mortality
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophies of Childhood / physiopathology
  • Survival Rate / trends