Silver Spring, MD, Feb. 11, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) is pleased to announce the fall 2019 recipients of the Expansion of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Newborn Screening Project awards. These awards provide funding to support state newborn screening programs with implementation of screening for SMA. The selected agencies will work closely with APHL's Newborn Screening Technical assistance and Evaluation Program (NewSTEPs) for successful implementation of SMA screening.

SMA is a group of inherited neuromuscular disorders caused by a loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain stem. Without motor neurons, the muscles progressively weaken and decrease in size or waste away causing individuals living with SMA to lose the ability to control breathing, swallowing, crawling, standing and/or walking. Babies born with the most severe types of SMA die in early infancy or early childhood due to respiratory failure. Early detection and diagnosis made possible by newborn screening allows early treatment to better manage symptoms and improve quality of life. In the United States, SMA affects approximately one in 10,000 births.

The following state departments of health have been selected to receive financial support, training and technical assistance for SMA-related activities:

  • Arkansas Department of Health
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
  • Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
  • Virginia Department of General Services, Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services

To date, 18 states are screening for SMA. While many other states have approved the addition of SMA to their newborn screening panel, there are several factors to consider before implementing full population screening. This includes identifying available instrumentation and infrastructure needs, evaluating available tests, acquiring equipment and increasing laboratory capacity and necessary training within the newborn screening program. The primary goal of the implementation awards is to support states in addressing some of these factors.


This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,500,000 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the US government.
The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) works to strengthen laboratory systems serving the public's health in the US and globally. APHL's member laboratories protect the public's health by monitoring and detecting infectious and foodborne diseases, environmental contaminants, terrorist agents, genetic disorders in newborns and other diverse health threats.

Michelle Forman