Ultrasound evaluation of fetal movements in pregnancies at risk for severe spinal muscular atrophy

Neuromuscul Disord. 2011 Feb;21(2):97-101. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2010.09.010. Epub 2010 Dec 30.


We studied spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) during human development to identify possible delays or alterations in fetal movements detectable by ultrasound. We evaluated 29 pregnancies at risk for severe SMA performing 2D-ultrasound around 11-14 weeks, prior to prenatal molecular testing of the SMN1 gene. We charted the occurrence of generalized body movements, isolated movements of arms and legs, head movements, startle and hiccup. Fetuses were diagnosed as healthy (n=12), carriers (n=10) or affected (n=7) according to the SMN1 molecular testing results obtained. SMN2 copies were also tested in the seven affected fetuses, six of whom showed two SMN2 copies and one a unique SMN2 copy. The movements under study were observed in all recordings, regardless of group and the SMN2 copies. At the gestational age examined, we did not observe a qualitative early limitation of movements in fetuses with SMA, even in cases predicted to develop a severe neonatal form.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetal Movement / physiology*
  • Gene Dosage / genetics
  • Humans
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / epidemiology*
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 1 Protein / genetics
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 2 Protein / genetics
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*


  • Survival of Motor Neuron 1 Protein
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 2 Protein