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Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)

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Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a severe type of muscular dystrophy that primarily affects boys. It is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. Here are key aspects of DMD, particularly in children:

  • Genetic Cause: DMD is caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, which is vital for muscle strength and function. The absence or near-absence of dystrophin leads to muscle damage and weakness.
  • Age of Onset: Symptoms usually appear in early childhood, around ages 2 to 5. Parents may first notice delays in motor milestones, such as sitting, standing, and walking.
  • Progression of Symptoms: DMD progresses steadily. Early signs include muscle weakness, difficulties in running and jumping, frequent falls, and walking on toes. Calves often appear enlarged due to muscle fibers being replaced by fat and connective tissue.
  • Loss of Ambulation: By the early teens or sometimes earlier, the disease progresses to a point where the child may lose the ability to walk and require a wheelchair for mobility.
  • Heart and Respiratory Involvement: DMD also affects cardiac and respiratory muscles. Cardiomyopathy and respiratory complications are common and require ongoing monitoring and management.
  • Diagnosis: Diagnosis is typically made based on clinical symptoms, a physical examination, and confirmatory genetic testing. Blood tests may show elevated levels of creatine kinase (CK), indicating muscle damage.
  • Treatment and Management: While there is no cure for DMD, treatments aim to control symptoms and improve quality of life. This includes corticosteroids to slow muscle degeneration, physical therapy, assisted ventilation for respiratory care, and cardiac medications.
  • Multidisciplinary Care: Management involves a team of specialists, including neurologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, to address the various aspects of the disease.
  • Impact on Daily Life: Children with DMD need assistance with daily activities as the disease progresses. Adaptations in the home and school environment are often necessary to accommodate mobility and care needs.
  • Genetic Counseling and Family Planning: DMD is an X-linked disorder, which means mothers can be carriers of the mutated gene. Genetic counseling is recommended for families affected by DMD.
  • Research and Clinical Trials: Ongoing research and clinical trials are focused on finding new treatments and potentially a cure for DMD, including gene therapy and exon skipping therapies.
  • Support and Quality of Life: Emotional and social support for children with DMD and their families is crucial. Support groups and counseling can help families cope with the emotional and practical challenges of the disease.

Early intervention, comprehensive care, and supportive therapies play critical roles in managing Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, helping to enhance mobility, prolong life, and improve the quality of life for affected children.

The Pediatric.me content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician