Muscular Dystrophies

What is it?

Muscular dystrophies are a group of genetic conditions that cause the muscles to weaken and waste over time. These can lead to difficulties with movement and completing everyday activities.

These conditions are progressive, meaning that they get worse over time. At first they often only affect one group of muscles, but as they develop they may affect muscles across the body more widely.

What causes muscular dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy is caused by changes in the genes that are responsible for the structure and functioning of a person’s muscles. These mutations change how a person’s muscle fibres develop and this affects how they function.

How does it affect children?

There are many different types of muscular dystrophy. Each one of these causes muscle weakness, but they differ in terms of the areas affected and when the symptoms typically are first observed. The severity of muscular dystrophy depends on which genes are affected, and some forms may lead to a reduced life expectancy.


This guide provides information for parents or carers of a child diagnosed with a muscle wasting condition:

There are many different types of Muscular Dystrophy.  A list of condition specific factsheets can be found here:

This publication addresses the frequently asked questions of families with a child recently diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy:

Non-urgent advice: Learn more

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Page last reviewed: 23 June, 2023