Muscular dystrophy(MD) encompasses a wide range of diseases with distinct characteristics that are diagnosed from birth until adulthood. The following are a few.

Duchenne MD — This form has an early childhood onset, often between ages 2 and 6. It’s typified by generalized weakness and muscle wasting affecting the limbs and trunk. The calves are often enlarged. The disease progresses slowly but affects all voluntary muscles and survival is rare beyond the late 20s.
Becker MD — This disease has an onset in adolescence or adulthood and is similar to Duchenne MD with less severe symptoms. It can affect the heart and has a slower more variable course. Patients often survive well into mid- to late- adulthood.
Myotonic Dystrophy (DM) — Often called Steinert’s disease, this form is diagnosed from childhood through middle age. It includes general weakness and muscle wasting in the face, feet, hands and neck in the beginning. Patients may experience delayed relaxation after contracting muscles and the progression is slow.

Juvenile Spinal Muscular Atrophy — Also known as Kugelberg-Welander disease, this is usually diagnosed when the patient is between 1 and 15 years of age. Its symptoms include weakness in the hips, legs, shoulders and arms.

It has a slow progression, but a wheelchair is often necessary in later life.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association includes more than 230 support groups across the country and it offers summer camps for children. Find out more at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Web site.