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The Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation is a voluntary organization whose mission is to accelerate the development of a treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the number one genetic killer of infants and toddlers. Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a group of inherited disorders characterized by a loss of certain nerve cells called motor neurons. Motor neurons transmit nerve impulses from the brain or spinal cord (brainstem) to muscle or glandular tissue. The loss of motor neurons leads to progressive muscle weakness and muscle wasting (atrophy) in muscles closest to the trunk of the body (proximal muscles) such as the shoulders, hips and back. These muscles are necessary for crawling, walking, sitting up and head control. The more severe types of SMA can affect muscles involved in feeding, swallowing and breathing.
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