Muscular atrophy in children

Muscular atrophy in children is one of the serious and chronic diseases that requires follow-up and attention to the child. The key details and information are listed below.

Muscular atrophy in children

What are the main causes of childhood muscular dystrophy? What are its signs and symptoms? How is it identified and handled? Here is the answer in this article:

What is muscular dystrophy?

Muscle weakness and shrinkage are side effects of the progressive disease known as muscular dystrophy, which is characterised by the progressive degeneration of muscle cells.

Although the causes of muscular dystrophy in children can differ, the signs and techniques for diagnosis are frequently the same.

Causes of muscular dystrophy in children

There are many causes of muscular dystrophy in children, and among these reasons are the following:

1. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

This disease results from a mutation in the gene responsible for manufacturing the dystrophin protein, and is the most common cause of muscular dystrophy in children, especially males. because the X chromosome is involved in its transmission.

2. Becker muscular dystrophy

It is a condition that resembles Duchenne dystrophy, but the symptoms are less severe and manifest later in life.

3. Spinal muscular atrophy

It is a group of illnesses brought on by a mutation in the SMN1 gene, which results in the degeneration and death of neurons in the anterior horn of the spinal cord, causing progressive muscle atrophy and weakness.

4. Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy

Muscle spasms and deteriorating strength in the muscles of the face and extremities are symptoms of this genetic condition.

Symptoms of muscular dystrophy in children

Children with muscular dystrophy experience a wide range of symptoms, some of which are listed below:

  • weaker than average lower extremities

The plantar muscles of the ankle, the knee flexors, and the hip flexors are typically stronger than the dorsiflexors and extensors of the knee.

  • delayed child motor milestones

Children with muscular atrophy take longer to begin moving and walking.

  • Leg muscle hypertrophy

It happens because fat cells replace muscle fibres in addition to the ongoing renewal of muscle cells.

  • difficulty walking

Inability to control the lower extremities due to muscle atrophy and imbalance results in abnormal walking patterns and frequent slips and falls.

  • low tendon reflexes and low muscle tone

One of the typical signs of conditions that lead to childhood muscular dystrophy is this symptom. If the deep tendon reflex is strong, this means that the patient's condition is not due to muscular dystrophy.

  • Gowers' sign

When a patient has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, their hip and knee extensor muscles weaken, making it difficult for them to stand up from a sitting position without using their hands.

  • speaking and swallowing challenges

due to the laryngeal and pharyngeal muscles being weak.

  • joint cramps

The majority of patients experience varying degrees of joint spasms in their elbows, hips, knees, and ankles.

  • Bone fractures

Lack of scratching results in osteoporosis, which raises the risk of fractures by causing muscle weakness and atrophy.

  • Cardiac symptoms

These signs include an enlarged heart muscle, an unsteady heartbeat, and weak heart muscle.

  • Neurological symptoms

Convulsions, epilepsy, excessive sleepiness, and vision issues are a few of these symptoms.

Diagnosis of muscular dystrophy in children

Children with muscular dystrophy can be diagnosed using the following methods:

  1. Blood test: The patient's blood is tested for the level of certain enzymes such as creatine kinase, which may rise due to the death of muscle cells.
  2. Muscle biopsy: A muscle biopsy is taken from the patient and examined under a microscope and then treated with chemicals and immunohistochemistry to check for some proteins in the sample.
  3. Genetic examination: A sample is taken from the patient to check for the presence of genetic mutations that cause genetic diseases of muscular dystrophy.
  4. Muscle electromyography and nerve conduction examination: to distinguish between muscular and neurological causes of muscle weakness.
  5. ECG examination: This is to ensure that there is no disturbance in the heartbeat, which may accompany some muscular dystrophy diseases.

Treating muscular dystrophy in children

Although there is no specific treatment for muscular dystrophy, there are supportive and palliative approaches that can be used, such as the following:

  • Physical therapy, athletic activities, and walking aids are examples of movement-assisted therapies.
  • Specialized groups are available in psychotherapy to assist patients in overcoming psychological and emotional stress.
  • Pharmacological therapy: the patient may be given steroids to increase muscle strength or beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors to treat heart issues.
  • Surgery is used to treat the patient's physical deformities and abnormal muscle contractions.

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