While we often talk about muscular dystrophy (MD) as a singular entity, the disorder actually refers to a family of neuromuscular disorders that cause a range of symptoms and complications. Duchenne is the most common form of muscular dystrophy found in the United States and it is estimated to affect roughly 1 in every 3500-6000 boys born annually. In today’s blog, learn everything you need to know about Duchenne MD.
An Overview on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
What is Duchenne muscular dystrophy?
Duchenne MD is a genetic disorder that leads to the degeneration and weakness of muscles. It is caused by a lack of dystrophin, the protein responsible for knitting together the cells of muscles. Duchenne MD can affect girls in rare cases but is much more prevalent in boys. Symptoms generally present between the ages of 3-5.
How do I know if my child has Duchenne muscular dystrophy?
Duchenne MD generally first affects the muscles of the lower body, including the hips, pelvic area, and thighs. In time, the muscles in the shoulder region will also weaken and the skeletal muscles of the arms, legs, and trunk will also become affected. If your child does not begin walking on schedule, this can be cause for concern. Other warning signs to watch out for include clumsiness and frequent falls, enlarged calf muscles, and difficulty with basic motor tasks such as getting up from the floor or climbing stairs. In older children, a common symptom of Duchenne MD is a habit of walking on toes/balls of the feet. If you notice any of these warning signs, it is important to consult with your child’s doctor promptly.
Can children with Duchenne MD live normal lives?
While Duchenne muscular dystrophy can cause mobility difficulties, children with the disorder can lead relatively normal and happy lives. Most children will need the assistance of a wheelchair by the age of 12. Until recently, the life expectancy associated with Duchenne MD was late teens to early 20s. However, thanks to advances in research and treatment, the life expectancy has increased dramatically and survival into the mid-30s has become quite common. Many men can live well into their 40s and 50s.
FISHING FOR MD (MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY)
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