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Can A Father Pass On Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy is a set of more than 30 genetic disorders that lead to the gradual and progressive wasting and weakness of the muscles.1 It occurs due to a mutation in the genes that code information for the production of a protein named dystrophin. This protein is essential for the normal growth and function of muscles. These genes pass from generation to generation in families. Either mother and father or both can pass the defective genes to their children. These children can be either carrier or develop the condition.

Can A Father Pass On Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy mostly affects males than females. Both mother and father pass on the genes to their children. Father can pass muscular dystrophy in the following ways-

  • If father and mother both have defective genes but they do not have the disease, then, it is 25 % possible that their children may develop muscular dystrophy. It is 25 % possibility that the child may carry the defective genes. It is 25% that the child will not carry those genes and will be healthy throughout his life. This type of inheritance comes under recessive inherited disorder. It is inherited in limb-girdle disorder.
  • If a father has muscular dystrophy, there is 50% possibility that he may pass the defective genes to his children. This comes under dominant inherited disorder. This type of disorder is inherited in facioscapulohumeral Muscular dystrophy, myotonic Muscular dystrophy, oculopharyngeal Muscular dystrophy and some variations of limb-girdle Muscular dystrophy.
  • One of the reasons for the affection of males is a sex-linked (X-linked) disorder. Father carry X and Y chromosomes and mother carry 2 X chromosomes. Muscular dystrophy is caused due to mutations in X chromosomes in sex-linked disorders. If a father carries defective genes in the X chromosomes, there is a possibility that the defective genes are passed to his daughters. But the daughters will not have muscular dystrophy until defective genes are passed by mothers as one of the normal X chromosomes will produce dystrophin. His sons may develop the condition if the mother passes the defective genes to them. However, this condition is severe only in males not in females. It is seen in Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Becker muscular dystrophy.

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of diseases in which muscles get weakened and damaged over the time. It is an inherited disease caused due to the deficiency of a protein named dystrophin. This protein is needed for the growth, structure, and normal function of the muscles. It usually affects the voluntary muscles of the body. It results in improper gait, problems during walking; swallowing and muscle coordination.

Muscular dystrophy represents a group of 30 genetic diseases. It may range from mild to moderate to severe conditions. The type and cause of the disease may decide the severity of a case. It influences the quality of one’s life and the person may get disabled. The life expectancy of some of the types of muscular dystrophy is short and most of them die in their early adulthood. However, in some types, the affected individual may possess mild effects on their muscles and can live a normal life. The severity of the condition depends on the age of onset, types, the speed of its progress, lifestyle and impact on heart and lungs. In some cases, it becomes so severe that it may result in heart and lung failure leading to sudden unexpected death.

Muscular dystrophy can appear at any age. It is usually seen in infant age. Some of its types may also develop in late childhood or middle age or later.


Muscular dystrophy is a term given to a group of genetic diseases which affects the structure and function of muscles. It is inherited from both the parents and runs in families from generation to generation. Father can pass the defective genes and muscular dystrophy to his children in the situations discussed above.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 24, 2019

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