Muscular Dystrophy is a hereditary condition consisting of the deterioration and weakening of the muscular system due to a mutation in one of the thousands of genes that program the proteins critical for muscle integrity. The muscles absorb additional calcium when the membrane that protects the muscles during contracting and relaxing are damaged, and the proteins leak. The additional calcium in the muscle tissue causes damage which leads to the death of the muscle fibers.
Duchenne is the most severe form of MS, and can be deadly. Onset usually occurs in boys between 3 and 5 years old, and progresses rapidly. Often ambulation is no longer possible by adolescence, and respiration diminishes to the point of assistance as the teen years laps.
There is no cure for M.D., though there are numerous therapeutic and medical treatments that can help control the symptoms and progression. With the use of dietary changes, prescriptions such as Corticosteroids, and assistive devices, patients can be kept active as long as possible, which is very important, as the continual atrophying of the muscles is exacerbated by inactivity. Physical and occupational therapies can help counteract against weakness and contractures, however this becomes more difficult as fatigue sets in, and the muscles atrophy. The progression varies greatly from mild lifelong symptoms, severe onset at varying stages, and even death, depending on several factors including the type of Dystrophy.
Pre-pregnancy genetic screening is important, especially if there is a history of the condition in the family. Women can carry the genes that lead to MS without showing any symptoms, or developing the condition. Males only have one X chromosome, which is sufficient to cause the disorder. Women, having 2 X chromosomes, must have the mutation present in both for the condition to manifest, as the non mutated chromosome can over ride the mutated one.