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Neurology. 2007 Nov 13;69(20):1931-6.

The changing natural history of spinal muscular atrophy type 1.

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Department of Neurology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.



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.


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


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.


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.


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

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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