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Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in the News - featured January 26, 2011

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[Source: The Houston Chronicle]

You have a little boy, and he has only recently celebrated his second birthday. You're aware he has a mild speech impediment, and when he plays with others, he seems slightly unsteady on his feet. But he's a cheerful child and seems perfectly normal in every other way, so you assume all is OK. You don't want to be an obsessive, hand-wringing parent.

Everybody knows kids develop at their own pace. Besides, you notice his legs, especially his calves, and you already see muscle definition. You puff up with pride and think, "Hey, my son is going to be a good athlete when he grows up."

That's how it was for Heinrich and Heather Meermann when they looked at Grant, their second-born. He'll be fine, they assured each other. It's nothing. Then one day Grant's speech therapist suggested — only for their peace of mind, of course - that they consider taking him to be tested for something called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

"I'd never heard of it," Heinrich said.

He went straight home and Googled Duchenne. What he read kicked him in the gut.

"It was quite horrific," he said. "You couldn't imagine a worse thing."
No cure, no survivors

The word insidious doesn't begin to describe Duchenne. It claims most of its victims before the age of 20. Since French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne first shined light on the muscle-wasting disease in 1861, no cure has been found. Not even close. There are no known survivors. The kids typically succumb to cardiac or respiratory failure.

Read the Rest of this Story on the Houston Chronicle.com

Tags: News of the Week Muscular Dystrophy Newsletter 28 January 2011