Introduction: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common X-linked neuromuscular condition manifested by progressive skeletal muscle weakness, cardiopulmonary involvement and cognitive deficits. Neurodevelopmental symptoms and signs are under-appreciated in this population despite the recognition that cognition has a major impact on quality-of-life. We describe the neurodevelopmental needs in a large cohort of young boys with DMD from the DMD Natural History Study (DNHS). We explore the association between neurodevelopmental needs and DMD mutation location, and with glucocorticoid use. Methods: We prospectively evaluated 204 participants between ages 4 to less than 9 years of age with DMD as part of a large, longitudinal, international DNHS. We obtained parent- or primary care-giver report of neurodevelopmental needs as part of their study visit. We assessed the relationship between parent/care-giver neurodevelopmental needs and DMD mutation location, and glucocorticoid use.
Results: The neurodevelopmental needs that were most commonly reported included speech delay (33%), mild developmental delay (24%), significant behavioral problems (16.5%), language impairment (14.5%), learning disability (14.5%), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (5%) and autism spectrum disorder (3%). Neurodevelopmental needs were more commonly reported by care-givers in those with DMD mutations downstream of exon 51. There was no relationship between care-giver reported neurodevelopmental needs and glucocorticoid use.
Conclusion: Neurodevelopmental needs are highly prevalent in young boys with DMD. Care-givers report higher neurodevelopmental needs when subjects have DMD mutations downstream of exon 51. Early interventions aimed at cognitive health are critical to improve the quality-of-life of individuals with DMD.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00468832.