Overview of Neuromuscular Disorder Molecular Diagnostic Experience for the Population of Latvia

Background and Objectives

Genetic testing has become an integral part of health care, allowing the confirmation of thousands of hereditary diseases, including neuromuscular disorders (NMDs). The reported average prevalence of individual inherited NMDs is 3.7–4.99 per 10,000. This number varies greatly in the selected populations after applying population-wide studies. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of genetic analysis as the first-tier test in patients with NMD and to calculate the disease prevalence and allelic frequencies for reoccurring genetic variants.


Patients with NMD from Latvia with molecular tests confirming their diagnosis in 2008–2020 were included in this retrospective study.


Diagnosis was confirmed in 153 unique cases of all persons tested. Next-generation sequencing resulted in a detection rate of 37%. Two of the most common childhood-onset NMDs in our population were spinal muscular atrophy and dystrophinopathies, with a birth prevalence of 1.01 per 10,000 newborns and 2.08 per 10,000 (male newborn population), respectively. The calculated point prevalence was 0.079 per 10,000 for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy type 1, 0.078 per 10,000 for limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, 0.073 per 10,000 for nondystrophic congenital myotonia, 0.052 per 10,000 for spinobulbar muscular atrophy, and 0.047 per 10,000 for type 1 myotonic dystrophy.


DNA diagnostics is a successful approach. The carrier frequencies of the common CAPN3, FKRP, SPG11, and HINT1 gene variants as well as that of the SMN1 gene exon 7 deletion in the population of Latvia are comparable with data from Europe. The carrier frequency of the CLCN1 gene variant c.2680C>T p.(Arg894Ter) is 2.11%, and consequently, congenital myotonia is the most frequent NMD in our population.

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