By Raising Children Network
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Muscular dystrophy (MD) is the name of a group of more than 30 inherited muscle disorders. Children with muscular dystrophy have skeletal muscles that get weaker over time.

About muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy causes the gradual weakening of the skeletal muscles, which control body movement.

Symptoms of muscular dystrophy vary in severity according to the type of muscular dystrophy a child has. They can range from very mild to very severe.

Muscular dystrophy is usually progressive. That means the symptoms get worse over time. For example, a person with muscular dystrophy might gradually lose the ability to walk.

The most common form of the disease is Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). This form first shows as muscle weakness in early childhood. It mostly affects boys, but can (rarely) affect girls.

Most children with DMD use a wheelchair by 12-13 years. DMD is associated with a high risk of scoliosis (curved spine). In some children scoliosis needs to be treated with surgery, because it can cause breathing difficulties if it’s left untreated.

Causes of muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is inherited from one or both of a child’s parents.

Diagnosis of muscular dystrophy

Diagnosis of muscular dystrophy involves careful examination by a health care professional.

Genetic testing can confirm the type of muscular dystrophy a child has.

Support and treatment for children with muscular dystrophy

If your child has muscular dystrophy, you and your child might work with some or all of the following professionals:

 
 
 
  • Last updated or reviewed 04-09-2014