People with DMD need a healthy, well-balanced diet. It’s important that you work with your doctor and dietician to ensure you or your child is getting all the nutrients needed.

Latest advice

Our friends at The World Duchenne Organization, together with experts on Duchenne and nutrition, have created a useful leaflet with information on nutrition and supplements.

Click below to view it:

Overview

People with DMD tend to put on weight easily because of their reduced mobility - and this puts more pressure on their already-weakened muscles.

Children taking steroids are at an even greater risk of putting on weight. Read more about that below.

Constipation can be a problem, caused by a combination of weak stomach muscles and immobility, so a high fibre diet - rich in fresh fruits and vegetables - is suggested.

Doctors and dieticians recommend a high-protein diet with lots of fibre:

  • Fish and lean meats, such as chicken
  • Vegetable protein, such as beans and soya
  • Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to provide fibre
  • Plenty of water to keep them hydrated

As for all people, it is suggested that refined foods such as white bread, sugars and pasta and fatty meats like beef, lamb or pork, are reduced or excluded.

Dietary considerations when starting Corticosteroids

Duchenne patients using corticosteroids like prednisone or deflazacort, and those with heart problems, may need a low salt diet.

Steroids have many benefits for children with DMD. But steroids also put a strain on their bodies. So, it’s even more important that they have a healthy diet that meets all their needs.

Steroids increase the risk that children will develop osteoporosis which is a thinning and weakening of the bones. Bisphosphonates may be recommended to help protect the bones.

Also, give them lots of opportunities to play outside because of the vitamin D in sunshine.

If they experience gastroesophageal reflux (GORD), then it may help to have a low-fat, high-fibre diet with lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Children using corticosteroids, such as prednisone or deflazacort, and those with heart problems may also need a low salt diet.

Nutritional supplements

There are only two supplements, vitamin D and calcium, that are recommended by the standards of care to keep muscles and bones strong. They should only be used when prescribed by your doctor. 

Other supplements may be prescribed if there is a clear nutritional need. 

We are aware that many parents give their children other supplements based on anecdotal evidence.

If you want to try any new supplement, we recommend that you talk to your doctor first.

The World Duchenne Organization have also created a leaflet with advice on Nutritional Supplements, click here to read it.

More resources

DMD Pathfinders created a Nutrition Guide for adults with Duchenne. They worked with health professionals around the world to pull together existing best practices and experiences of adults with DMD into this useful resource.

The World Duchenne Organization have also create a series of videos in which Dr Zoe Davidson (advanced accredited practising dietician in Australia) answers the 17 most frequently asked questions about nutrition in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Click here to watch them on youtube.