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How does muscular dystrophy affect the body?

Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy are names for the same disorder caused by genetic mutations in the DMD gene. All mutations in DMD affects the structure and signaling in muscle resulting in muscle weakness of differing severity.  Symptoms occur predominately in the voluntary muscles in the legs, and arms, but muscles in the heart and respiratory system can also be affected. This makes people with the disorder more susceptible to complications like infections or heart failure. In some cases, Duchenne or Becker muscular dystrophy can also lead to learning disabilities if the brain is affected by the lack of properly-functioning dystrophin.  Duchenne is considered the early onset and more severe form with muscle weakness before the age of 5 and wheelchair dependence by the age of 13.  Becker is the later onset form and affected individuals do not become wheelchair bound until after age 16 or ever. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.