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Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy and hormones

Boys with this degenerative muscle condition are most often started on steroid medicines in a bid to slow the progression of the muscle disease. The steroids, whilst helping with this, do have their side-effects on many organ systems, which need to be anticipated and managed early. Awareness amongst health professionals may be patchy, so it is recommended that families seek a Paediatric endocrine consult themselves. Some of the problems are : thinning of bones, propensity to develop diabetes , short height, delayed puberty. The most fearsome complication is the ‘adrenal shutdown’ i.e. the inability of the adrenal gland to help the body combat stressful events like illnesses, accidents, traumatic events. If this is not managed correctly, the boys have been known to get very sick indeed, sometimes causing death too. However, this condition can be dealt with easily in anticipation. All this is within the purview of a Paediatric endocrinologist.