Dystrophy is any condition in which a part of the body weakens or wastes away. In muscular dystrophy, the weakness is in the muscles. An inherited genetic mistake prevents the body from making a protein that helps build muscles and keep them strong.
Children who are born with muscular dystrophy usually develop normally for the first few years of life. They may suddenly show signs of clumsiness. These signs include:
Marcela Jones, an English professor in Washington, D.C., says her 3-year-old daughter, Amalia, starts screaming as soon as they step into a doctor's office. Her child's white coat-triggered misery started, Jones says, with her two-year checkup -- Amalia had her routine shots and then went upstairs to another office for a lead blood test. "We had to have three people holding her down," says Jones. "It was horrible."
What's a parent to do? Jones knew she didn't want a struggle like that again, so...
difficulty raising the front of their foot (called foot drop)
Over time, children with muscular dystrophy can become weaker and weaker, losing the ability to sit, walk, and lift objects. Because the disease can also affect muscles in the heart and lungs, serious heart and breathing problems can occur.
There are several different types of muscular dystrophy. Muscle weakness is a hallmark of each type. But the symptoms can vary and start at different ages.
Some muscular dystrophies are mild. Others are severe and cause greater muscle loss.