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Patient Education

Information Leaflet for Patients and Families: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

key information

source: NHS Foundation Trust


DMD is a very serious condition that affects about 1 in every 3500 male births in the UK. DMD affects all the muscles of the body, causing them to become weaker over time. Boys with DMD usually begin having difficulty in walking by the age of 3 years and are unable to run and jump like their peers. They often struggle to climb stairs and get up from the floor. Some boys also have mild learning difficulties or behavioural problems.

By their early teens, most boys with DMD will need a wheelchair. By the late teens or early twenties DMD affects the breathing muscles. This is severe enough to shorten life expectancy. There are many young adults with DMD who are employed and live independently.

What causes DMD? 

DMD is caused by an alteration in an important gene called dystrophin. The dystrophin gene normally makes a protein that is important for keeping muscles strong and healthy. If the dystrophin gene has an alteration in it, the dystrophin protein is not made. This means that the body does not have a way to replace damaged muscle tissue or to grow new muscle cells.


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