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Signs of Muscular Dystrophy in Children

Muscular Dystrophy (MD) is a genetic condition of the muscle in which they become very weak. These muscles start breaking down and then are replaced with fat deposits. If your child has muscular dystrophy, they are more likely to develop other health problems such as obesity, heart problems, and scoliosis (a sideways, lateral, rotation, and curvature of the vertebrae that gives the appearance of the person leaning to one side). The most common types of muscular dystrophy are Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Even though these both are quite similar, the DMD is more severe than the Becker muscular dystrophy. In most cases, muscular dystrophy is diagnosed in children between the age of 3 to 6 years. The early signs of this condition include frequent falling, delay in walking, weakness affecting the pelvic muscle and shoulder, and trouble getting up out of a chair or bed. Every child experiences different symptoms of muscular dystrophy, but there are a few symptoms that remain common including the following: Clumsy movement Inability to close eyes or whistle Facial weakness Difficulty climbing stairs Frequently trips and falls Leg pain Shoulder and arm weakness Tiptoe walking Unable to jump or hop normally

One of the primary characteristics of the DMD is the Gower’s sign. Children who have DMD find it very difficult to get up from a lying or sitting position on the floor. They have to pull up to their knees and hands. As they rise to stand, they have to walk their hands up their legs to brace themselves. Also, children with MD can have large calves because of the amount of fatty deposits replacing muscle. Since the symptoms of this health problem might resemble other medical problems or conditions, it is crucial that you consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Muscular dystrophy is a progressive medical condition that requires life-long management in order to prevent complications and deformity. As your child continues to grow, sitting and walking will become more difficult. By the time they turn 12 years old, their leg muscles will become too weak and they will need a wheelchair. During their late teenage years or early 20s, they might develop lung or heart conditions. The interdisciplinary team at the Rainbow Children’s Hospital will work with you to improve the functional outcomes of your child and provide support to the child as they learn to take care of their needs.

Dr. Ujjwala Desai


Rainbow Children's Hospital, Banjara Hills