Medical considerations of long-term survival of Werdnig-Hoffmann disease

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OBJECTIVES: To report intercurrent nonrespiratory complications of unprecedented survival for Werdnig-Hoffman disease (spinal muscular atrophy type 1 [SMA 1]). DESIGN: A retrospective chart review and caregiver questionnaire for 103 consecutively referred SMA 1 patients for whom death was prevented during infancy. RESULTS: Overall, 15 of 63 (23.8%) respondents had severe, symptomatic bradycardias. Thirteen of 25 males had bilateral cryptorchidism, and two were unilateral. Ten of 42 (24%) respondents had recurrent oral candidiasis, and eight (19.0%) had recurrent nonoral candidiasis. All patients had hip dislocation/subluxation. They had collapsing spines and scoliosis by 1 yr of age. Ninety-six had indwelling gastrostomy/nasogastric tubes before 24 mos of age. Twenty-six underwent fundoplication to decrease reflux. Fifty-seven were on modified elemental diets with reported benefits. About one half had early pubarche. Three patients had episodes of acute pancreatitis. One untreated patient died of candidal endocarditis at 4 mos of age, and a second child had mitral valve candidiasis on autopsy. CONCLUSION: Prolonged survival of SMA 1 results in a high incidence of concomitant medical conditions that need to be addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-355
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


  • Autonomic Dysfunction
  • Candidiasis
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Mechanical Ventilation
  • Nutrition
  • Quality of Life
  • Respiratory Paralysis
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1


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