Many times, we overlook certain signs in the development of our children to which, however, we should pay close attention. If a child continually falls or feels fatigued, we tend to think that it is because he/she is overweight, that in a pandemic he/she did not do much physical exercise or that he/she does not sleep well. However, these signs may be an alert that the child has muscular dystrophy. Dr. Pamela Muñoz, a pediatric neurologist at our clinic, explains how one of these types of dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, manifests itself in children.
What is Duchenne muscular dystrophy?
- It is the most severe and common form of muscular dystrophy in childhood. This rare disease that causes disability can manifest itself in pre-school age, approximately 3 years old, and can even occur in adolescence and, although a definitive cure has not yet been found, there is treatment to slow the progression of symptoms.
- This genetic condition affects 1 in 3,000 children and, in most cases, they are boys. Girls, although they may be carriers of the gene that causes this disease, usually have mild symptoms.
The suspicious signs that parents can observe in their children are:
- Psychomotor retardation
- Has frequent trips and falls
- Muscle weakness in the arms and legs
- Difficulty getting up, running, or climbing stairs
- Has leg pain and tends to walk on tiptoe
What to do if my son is diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy?
- Although we have mentioned that this disease is of genetic origin, it must be taken into account that, if action is not taken in time, the deterioration caused by the disease will develop more quickly and could affect the respiratory and cardiac muscles. On the contrary, if it is controlled early and properly, the child’s quality of life can be extended by up to a decade.
- Parents should pay attention to the signs that have been described and seek specialized help. After the diagnosis, the minor must rigorously attend their check-ups and take physiotherapy, as well as receive nutritional advice, among others.
- Parents or caregivers must ensure that the minor takes all his/her medications, in addition to following each of the indications recommended by the specialists in charge of her treatment.
- Also, it is recommended to seek psychological support for both the child and the parents, who should give the child the strength it requires to make the difficult process of this degenerative disease more bearable.
Dr. Pamela Muñoz
Pediatric Neurologist at Clínica Ricardo Palma