New Jersey's 21st Legislative District

Senator Tom Kean, Jr.

Senator Tom Kean

Kean Bill Requiring Newborn Screening for Spinal Muscular Atrophy Passes Senate

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Says Early Detection Leads to Prompt Treatment

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean’s legislation to ensure those born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) can receive treatment as soon as possible was passed unanimously by the New Jersey Senate.

Sen. Tom Kean’s legislation to ensure those born with spinal muscular atrophy can receive treatment as soon as possible was passed unanimously by the State Senate. (Flickr)

“SMA is the number-one genetic cause of death in infants and toddlers in the United States,” said Kean (R-21). “Treatment administered without delay will improve the quality of life for infants with SMA, leading to better outcomes with potential life-saving results. Screening for spinal muscular atrophy at birth will save the lives of New Jersey’s newborns.”

Kean’s bipartisan legislation, S-974, would require infants born in New Jersey be tested for the genetic markers associated with SMA.

SMA leads to progressive muscle weakness and atrophy, particularly in the torso, upper legs, and upper arms. Individuals with the most common form of SMA typically have a lifespan of less than two years.

All babies born in New Jersey are required to be tested for fifty-five disorders within 48 hours of birth. One heel prick provides enough blood to test for all fifty-five disorders.

It is estimated that 165,889 New Jerseyans are carriers of the disease.

“I hope we will find a cure for SMA soon,” added Kean. “Until then, infant screenings are our best bet to combat this disease.”

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