“August is Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month. Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare condition that affects the nerve cells that control muscle movement. It causes muscle weakness that eventually leads to muscle wasting. 

“SMA occurs in about one in every 10,000 births, or five to six babies a year in Alberta.

“The Government of Alberta is working to provide better supports and treatments for those living with SMA and their families. Treatment can slow the progression of the disease, particularly when it is provided prior to the onset of symptoms. Without treatment, those with severe cases of SMA may only survive two years.

“Last year we added Zolgensma, a one-time gene therapy, to Alberta’s Rare Disease Coverage Program. This year we started a pilot program to provide newborn screening for the disease. Early diagnosis will provide babies and families access to life-changing treatments sooner, when treatments are the most effective, and timely access to the referrals they need.

“This August, please show your compassion and support for individuals and families affected by spinal muscular atrophy.”