The aim of this retrospective multicentric study was to assess developmental milestones longitudinally in type I SMA infants using the Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination. Thirty-three type I SMA infants, who classically do not achieve the ability to sit unsupported, were included in the study. The results confirmed that all patients had a score of 0 out of a scale of 4 on items assessing sitting, rolling, crawling, standing or walking. A score of more than 0 was only achieved in three items: head control (n = 13), kicking (n = 15) and hand grasp (n = 18). In these items, the maximal score achieved was 1 out of a scale of 4, indicating only partial achievement of the milestone. Infants with symptom onset after 6 months of age had longer preservation of a score of 1 when compared to those with onset before 6 months of age.
The results suggest that even when current standards of care are applied, developmental milestones are rarely even partially achieved as part of natural history in type I SMA infants. No infants in this study achieved a major milestone such as rolling over, or sitting independently, which would therefore represent robust outcomes in future interventional trials.