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October 2020

Practice nurses urged to check for signs of NMD

A new awareness campaign aims to enlist general practice nurses in helping to spot early warning signs of neuromuscular disease (NMD) in babies up to 3 months of age.

Think 3 for NMD highlights three key motor development signs to check for in babies up to 3 months:

  • Poor head control
  • Floppiness of limbs, and
  • An inability to reach for things

By recognising the signs of possible NMD early, practice nurses can refer a baby to a GP for review, who can then expedite a referral to a paediatric neurologist if NMD is suspected.

The campaign, launched by Novartis Gene Therapies, formerly known as AveXis, comes at a time when a recent nationwide parent survey found only 4 out of 10 new parents were aware of three key movement milestones their baby should be achieving within the first 3 months. Furthermore, 1 in 6 stated they do not expect a baby to be able to make any physical movements by 3 months old.

‘As practice nurses see babies routinely for their immunisations, and often for other reasons, they are well placed to respond to any parental concerns regarding development and escalate where necessary,’ said Richard Pratt, GP. ‘The “Think 3 for NMD” campaign also urges practice nurses to play a vital role in checking for three key motor development skills whenever they see a baby in the first 3 months of life. It is important to act fast, as a prompt diagnosis of an NMD may enable much better care and outcomes.’

The overall prevalence of NMDs in children in the UK is 37 per 100,000, rising to 91 per 100,000 in children with South Asian heritage. Whilst NMDs are rare, some can be fatal and any damage that occurs before treatment is irreversible, so prompt diagnosis is vital.

To find out more about the campaign, visit

Practice Nurse 2020;50(8):6