What are muscular dystrophies?

Updated: Dec 28, 2017
  • Author: Courtney A Bethel, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Muscular dystrophies are chronic, progressive, inherited myopathies that present from early childhood to adolescence, as follows:

  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), observed in boys younger than 5 years, causes the most severe disease; cardiomyopathy is common in affected children
  • Weakness and muscle wasting in a child with elevated CK occurs with DMD, but other dystrophies (eg, fascioscapulohumeral, limb-girdle, myotonic) may occur in boys and girls with normal muscle-enzyme levels
  • Patients with mild cases may lead fairly normal lives, but progressive weakness and scoliosis impairing pulmonary function often results in recurrent infections and exacerbation of weakness

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