April 18, 2010 (WPVI) — Every year, thousands of children are diagnosed with scoliosis – a curvature of the spine.
That leaves parents wondering if the problem will get worse?
When a doctor diagnosed Brenda Hom with scoliosis, her mother Joyce, hoped for the best.
“At this point, her scoliosis is, he said, like 30 degrees, and hopefully, it hasn’t gone up,” Joyce Hom said.
But she is nervous about what will happen to her daughter in the future and how much treatment Brenda will need.
“Most scoliosis physicians would recommend a follow-up at least twice a year, sometimes three times a year,” Doctor Daniel Green said.
But a non-invasive test called ScoliScore uses a patient’s saliva to eliminate some of the mystery. It screens for more than fifty genetic markers linked to the progression of spinal curves. It then assigns a score.
“Someone with an extremely low score, we’d be much less likely to follow them three times a year,” Green said.
A higher score however, would warrant closer watching.
“We’re going to be following them more closely,” Green said. “Perhaps even discussing treatment options even sooner than we previously had.”
Doctors know that the test works for the genetic markers in Caucasian children, and are verifying it in Asian and African American children.
Brenda is now part of that study. Her mom hopes it will give her a better handle on Brenda’s situation.
“In my mind now … if it’s a test that shows that she’s stabilized, okay, I won’t have to worry as much,” Hom said.
Joyce discovered that several of Brenda’s cousins also have scoliosis and they are considering getting the test.
However, ScolioScore costs nearly 3-thousand dollars and because it’s new, it is not widely accepted by insurance plans.