The muscular dystrophies are relatively uncommon inherited disorders of muscle. They are characterized by a progressive course and by degenerative changes in skeletal muscle fibres. Most begin in childhood but in others the disease is not recognized until adult life. Classification depends on clinical, genetic and histological criteria (Table 6.1). The childhood myopathies are, by convention, classified separately since these disorders are only very slowly progressive and they show only mild myopathic changes in the muscle, although there may be particular features in certain of these disorders.
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