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What You Should Know About Muscular Dystrophy in Children

It is the desire of every parent to have a healthy child. Unfortunately, some children are born with conditions that you realize later as the child grows. One of such conditions is muscular dystrophy which is a neuromuscular condition. The condition causes your child’s muscles to weaken and break down. The good news is that your pediatric neurologist in New York at NY Neurology Associates can help manage your child’s condition.

Types of muscular dystrophy

There are many muscular dystrophy types, but two kinds are the most common, Becker muscular dystrophy and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In Becker muscular dystrophy, dystrophin is produced but in a smaller amount. Therefore, your child’s muscle functions better than if it’s affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy, where there is the absence of dystrophin, which intensifies muscle weakness.

Causes of muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy results from uncommon genes that meddle with protein production that help form healthy muscles. This disease is genetic.

Symptoms to look for in muscular dystrophy

Both Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy have similar symptoms except that in Becker muscular dystrophy, the symptoms are mild and progress slowly and start showing during teenage years. In Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the symptoms move faster and start showing at early childhood.

Some of the early symptoms that indicate your child has muscular dystrophy are slow walking, regularly falling, finding it hard to wake up after sitting down or lying down, weak shoulders and hip muscles.

Children experience symptoms differently, but the most common symptoms to check for include:

  •         Frequent falls and trips
  •         Clumsy movement
  •         Difficulty climbing stairs
  •         Tiptoe walking
  •         Arm and shoulder weakness
  •         Unable to hop or jump normally

How is muscular dystrophy diagnosed?

When you take your child for a muscular dystrophy diagnosis, your pediatric neurologist will go through both your child’s birth and prenatal history. The pediatric neurologist will also enquire about any family history of muscular dystrophy disease. Your child’s pediatrician will also carry out a physical examination and diagnostic tests.

Some of the diagnostic tests that may be taken include:

Muscle biopsy

Your pediatrician may request a biopsy to differentiate between muscular dystrophy and other muscle diseases.

Blood tests

These genetic tests involve a sample of blood taken and examined for gene alterations, which causes muscular dystrophy.

Electromyogram

The pediatric neurologist will use this test to determine the cause of muscle weakness if it is due to muscle tissue destruction or damaged nerves.

Electrocardiogram

Your child’s pediatrician will use this test to examine the heart’s electrical activity, check if there is damaged heart muscle and abnormal heartbeat.

Treatment for muscular dystrophy

After diagnosis, your child’s pediatrician will develop a personalized plan to manage your child’s condition and offer medication to strengthen the muscles and help in heart condition if heart muscles are damaged. Some of the management interventions that your child’s pediatric neurologist may recommend include:

  •         Nutritional counseling
  •         Physical therapy
  •         Psychological counseling

The management focuses on maximizing your child’s functional ability while at home or with other children by reducing or preventing deformities.

For more information about muscular dystrophy, call or book an appointment online with NY Neurology Associates.

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