Muscular dystrophy

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Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of genetic, inherited conditions that cause progressive deterioration of the body’s muscles.

This leads to an increase in weakness and causes permanent disability.

The most common form of muscular dystrophy is called Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), and it is more common in men, affecting one in every 3,000 newborn boys.

The symptoms of DMD typically surface in early childhood and can include:

  • frequent falls
  • difficulty running or jumping
  • waddling movements when walking
  • difficulty getting up from a lying or sitting position
  • large calf muscles
  • muscle pain
  • muscle stiffness
  • learning disabilities

Other forms of MD include Becker-type MD, myotonic dystrophy, limb-girdle MD, facioscapulohumeral (FSHD), Emery-Dreifuss, oculopharyngeal, distal and congenital MD.

Symptoms can be present in childhood or adulthood, depending on the type, and often include muscle weakness and difficulty breathing and swallowing.

Treatments are available to improve the condition and quality of life of people with muscular dystrophy, such as occupational and physical therapy, regular stretching, medication, surgery, breathing aids and age-appropriate dietary therapy to avoid obesity.

Currently, there is no cure for muscular dystrophy, with medication and therapy helping to slow its progress. Early death may occur if respiratory or cardiac muscles are severely affected.

If you are concerned about your child, or yourself, presenting MD-related symptoms, speak with your General Practitioner (GP) or paediatrician.