Prevalence of muscular dystrophies: a systematic literature review

Neuroepidemiology. 2014;43(3-4):259-68. doi: 10.1159/000369343. Epub 2014 Dec 16.


Background: Determining the prevalence of neuromuscular disorders for the general population is important to identify the scope of burden on society and enable comparisons with other health conditions. This systematic review aims to identify and collate the findings of studies published between 1960 and 2013 on the prevalence of all types of muscular dystrophies.

Summary: Relevant articles were identified through electronic database searches and manual searches of reference lists. There were 38 articles from across 19 countries that met the inclusion criteria. The total combined prevalence for all muscular dystrophies for studies classified as having a low risk of bias ranged between 19.8 and 25.1 per 100,000 person-years. Myotonic dystrophy (0.5-18.1 per 100,000), Duchenne muscular dystrophy (1.7-4.2) and facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (3.2-4.6 per 100,000) were found to be the most common types of disorder. There was wide variation in study methodology, case ascertainment, and verification procedures and populations studied, all of which may contribute to the wide prevalence range, in addition to the likely variation in prevalence by country. Key Messages: Greater consistency in the conduct and reporting of neuroepidemiological studies is urgently needed to enable comparisons to be made between studies, countries, and over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscular Dystrophies / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence