Muscular dystrophy refers to a group of diseases passed down from parent to child (hereditary), causing progressive muscle weakness.
At Dignity Health, our pregnancy specialists offer comprehensive pregnancy services, including care for fetal conditions such as muscular dystrophy, in Long Beach, Northridge, Downtown LA, Glendale, and San Bernardino.
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Muscular Dystrophy Symptoms
The symptoms of muscular dystrophy vary and depend on the type. Signs of the disorder may be seen early in a child’s life, or later on.
Common symptoms include:
- Missed or delayed developmental milestones such as sitting up or walking
- Overall muscle weakness
- Lack of muscle tone
- Difficulty with movement
- Unusual gait or posture
- Stiff joints
With time, muscular dystrophy symptoms tend to steadily get worse.
Causes of Muscular Dystrophy
The cause of muscular dystrophy is heredity. In this condition, a genetic mutation stops the growth of certain proteins that affect muscle performance, gradually causing the muscle to weaken. Gene mutations that cause muscular dystrophy can be passed down from generation to generation.
Dignity Health Southern California doctors diagnose muscular dystrophy with laboratory blood work, muscle biopsy, electromyography, and genetic analysis.
Genetic Counseling for Muscular Dystrophy at Dignity Health Southern California Hospitals
The goal of treatment for muscular dystrophy is to improve muscle function, movement, and overall symptoms. Dignity Health Southern California doctors work closely with parents-to-be, providing genetic counseling and information on family history and risk factors for having a child with muscular dystrophy.
With genetic counseling, your provider will review your family and medical history and go over the results of your genetic testing. This can help you make an informed decision about next steps.
Muscular dystrophy treatment may include:
- Physical, occupational, speech, and respiratory therapy — Special exercises can help improve strength and muscle function, and assistive devices (such as splints and walkers) can help with everyday life.
- Medications — To protect muscle strength, prevent muscle spasms, slow muscle damage, and prevent and treat infection.
- Surgery — To correct medical complications or reposition the spine and limbs to improve movement.
Your Dignity Health doctor will explain your child’s condition, how it will affect him or her, and all possible treatment options.
Dignity Health baby and family doctors offer care to diagnose and manage muscular dystrophy in Southern California.