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Integrating Newborn Screening for Spinal Muscular Atrophy Into Health Care Systems: An Australian Pilot Programme

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source: Developmental medicine and child neurology

year: 2021

authors: D'Silva AM,Kariyawasam DST,Best S,Wiley V,Farrar MA,


Aim: This study dynamically designed, evaluated, and implemented the components of an Australian newborn bloodspot screening (NBS) pilot programme for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Method: We used an implementation-effectiveness study design and continuous interdisciplinary review to measure SMA NBS test protocol performance, identify and overcome laboratory and clinical barriers to implementation, and describe progress during the 2-year pilot study.

Results: The NBS programme screened 252 081 newborn infants from 1st August 2018 to 31st January 2021. Using an NBS pilot test protocol, 21 infants were diagnostically confirmed with SMA. The NBS pilot test protocol had a sensitivity of 100%, specificity greater than 99.9%, false-positive rate less than 0.001%, a false-negative rate of 0%, and positive predictive value of 95.5%. A severe phenotype was predicted on the basis of two copies of SMN2 in 57.2% of newborn infants screening positive for SMA. Clinical signs consistent with SMA were evident in 6 out of 21 screen-positive newborn infants within the first 4 weeks of life. A multidisciplinary team establishing strong partnerships across clinical and laboratory staff was key to implementation.

Interpretation: This pilot programme suggests that NBS is essential for early identification of newborn infants at risk of SMA and can be effectively translated into clinical practice.

organization: Sydney Children's Hospital Network, Australia; University of New South Wales Medicine and Health, Australia; Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Australia; Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Australia; University of Sydney, Australia

DOI: 10.1111/dmcn.15117

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