Muscular atrophy in children comes in two forms: Duchenne muscular dystrophy already occurs in young children. Becker-Kiener dystrophy becomes apparent at school age.
Early treatment can positively influence the course of the disease.
Children waddle – and this especially when they have just learned to walk. Children also fall down. This is quite normal.
However, if your child's waddling gait remains and clumsy falling down almost becomes a program, this could also be an indication of a form of muscle atrophy. We explain to you which forms of the disease there are in children and what this means for you and your child.
1. Muscle atrophy affects different parts of the body
The most common forms of muscle atrophy, affecting even newborns or young children, generally include genetically determined. The protein dystrophin, which is responsible for muscle metabolism, is missing in the hereditary disposition or is not present in sufficient amounts. This in turn leads to the death of muscle cells.
Muscle atrophy affects different parts of the body – but above all Arms, legs, thighs, back, trunk, face, and cardiac, swallowing, and respiratory muscles. These muscle diseases are therefore called muscle atrophy, because it is characterized by muscle wasting and muscle reduction. This is preceded by successive muscle weakness. The musculature regresses.
Cause and trigger of muscle atrophy are dying muscle cells or nerve cells responsible for supplying the muscle cells. A disturbed transmission of impulses between nerves. Muscles can cause similar symptoms.
1.1 Children develop muscle diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy or Becker-Kiener dystrophy
Muscular atrophy occurs in children in different forms, which are named after their respective discoverers. Duchenne and Becker-Kiener are the most common forms of muscle disease in children.
– At the Duchenne muscular dystrophy only male patients suffer. It already occurs in young children. On average, one child in 3.500 newborns are affected. Duchenne is a hereditary disease that mothers carry and can only be passed on to their sons. – The Becker-Kiener dystrophy is less common, usually occurs at school age or later, and is slower and less pronounced.
1.2. Middle of the 19. Known at the beginning of the twentieth century. A chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system. known since the beginning of the twentieth century and a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Affected persons suffer from progressive muscle paralysis and often need a wheelchair quite early. Later, breathing, swallowing and speaking also cause problems. Although ALS often leads to death within a few years, it is possible to live with the disease for decades. The most famous example of this is the astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.
About 2.5 million people worldwide have the MS disease, multiple sclerosis. MS disease begins in early adulthood, affecting the nervous system. Even if the common opinion prevails, Multiple sclerosis is not a form of muscle atrophy. The course of the disease looks like this: The disease can be fatal, but it does not have to be. Living in a wheelchair is not necessarily a consequence, either, whereas problems with vision, sensory disturbances or frequent stumbling can be possible signs of multiple sclerosis. If inflammatory foci develop, they cause an MS relapse. MS cannot be cured causally, therefore the MS therapy includes a relapse therapy, a course-modified therapy and a symptomatic therapy.
2. Weakness in drinking and delayed development may be the first symptoms of the muscle disease
It is quite normal for children to stumble. However, the waddling gait could also be a sign of muscle atrophy.
Depending on age, disease progress as well as the type of muscle atrophy, the symptoms also vary. However, this development is common to all of them: The movements that are restricted or impossible are always those whose muscle groups are affected by the dystrophy. Back pain can occur when the muscles regress to such an extent that the load on the bones hurts.
Already in the womb first signs can be seen, for example then, if the unborn child moves conspicuously little. Affected newborns often show weakness in drinking. Its development may be delayed accordingly. During motor development, they may have problems lifting their head or learning to walk.
Can a child already walk when he or she becomes ill, the muscle strength built up in the meantime as well as the freedom of movement is lost. Initially there is clumsy stumbling, difficulty climbing stairs, or your child needs assistance standing up.
Attention: At the beginning, parents notice the waddling gait characteristic of muscle atrophy. Affected children often have strong-looking calves, which, however, are only fat deposits instead of muscle mass. Muscle weakness can be observed, but muscle pain is rather rare.
3. Diagnosis: Genetic testing or a muscle biopsy can be used to determine the presence of a muscle disease
Children suffering from Duchenne muscular atrophy usually lose their ability to walk after the age of eight.
Diagnosis is made by a genetic test or muscle biopsy. A blood test in the laboratory is also possible, since muscle enzymes in the blood also increase as a result of muscle degeneration. Abnormal muscle activity can also be detected by electromyography.
The course of the disease depends on the age and stage at which you detect dystrophy in your child. If children with the disease are not treated at an early age, their condition usually deteriorates more quickly than in those who develop the disease at a later stage.
If you notice discomfort, behavioral abnormalities or developmental delays associated with abnormalities in the ability to move, you should definitely consult a doctor. In order to be able to start a suitable therapy for muscle atrophy in children, an early diagnosis is extremely important.
An example from practice: Children suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy usually lose their ability to walk between the ages of 8 and 16. and the 15. age. Then they need a wheelchair to move around. Life expectancy is also greatly reduced. However, new therapies are also making it possible to live past the age of forty. From the age of 30 or 40, the psychological problems associated with muscular atrophy increase.
4. Treatment: Occupational and physical therapy for the body, psychological care for the soul
Currently, the therapy is symptomatically applied to the affected muscle groups, as the measures of genetic engineering are still in the research stage. The goal of therapy for muscle atrophy is to maintain the quality of life, which in turn is conditioned by the best possible functioning of the muscles.
In order to prevent possible sequelae, such as respiratory diseases or muscular pain Occupational and physical therapy well suited. This not only preserves mobility as much as possible. Supportive aids can also be prescribed at an early stage.
Medication as well as surgical treatments can accompany the therapy. Regular breathing training or nocturnal ventilation is necessary in some cases.
Tip: Muscle atrophy itself cannot be cured by medication, but the course can still be positively influenced by appropriate therapy. There are also no homeopathic remedies for muscle atrophy. Only muscle atrophy after 60 (sarcopenia, rheumatism) can be partially slowed down with good nutrition.
4.1. The psychological consequences affect children, parents and relatives
No less important is psychological care. This affects not only the patients themselves, but also parents and siblings. Muscle atrophy is a psychological burden for everyone involved. Constant restrictions cause the affected persons themselves to suffer. Parents must bear the burden of care. Siblings also need support and answers to questions:
– What is muscle atrophy? – Why do I have muscle atrophy? – Why do you get muscle? – When do you get muscle atrophy? – Who has muscle atrophy?