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Many medications have been tried in the treatment of DMD, and corticosteroids (e.g. prednisolone) are the only proven effective medication. However, recent studies of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate in children with DMD have shown increased muscle strength, leading
to improvement in functions such as walking and climbing stairs.
There is good evidence for the safe and effective use of creatine monohydrate in children with DMD.
Creatine monohydrate (commonly referred to as just creatine) is a naturally occurring compound involved in making energy in cells of the body, particularly in the brain and muscles. Creatine is converted to creatinine in the body. It is made in the liver and kidneys, as well as being
found in food. In healthy people, taking creatine monohydrate supplements increases muscle strength. In children with DMD, creatine supplements improve muscle strength and may have other effects, including better energy use within muscle cells and less muscle breakdown.
Studies show that children with DMD taking creatine maintain strength longer, and they are able to perform better in activities like walking and climbing stairs. Children taking the supplements and their parents both notice an overall improvement in the child’s strength.
These benefits occur while the child is taking the supplement, and short to medium-term benefits have been recorded. However, the long-term benefits of this treatment are not yet known.
No side effects have been identified in children with DMD who take creatine monohydrate as a dietary supplement.
It is best to purchase creatine monohydrate supplements from Australian suppliers, as they must conform to national medicine standards.
Creatine comes in several different forms. The forms used in The Royal Children's Hospital DMD clinic are:
Don't buy other forms of creatine (e.g. creatine esters) or creatine in pre-mixed powders containing other supplements.
You can mix creatine monohydrate powder into drinks to be given to your child. Follow these steps:
The best time of day to take creatine is each day in the morning, before school.
How safe is creatine?
No side effects have been identified in children with DMD who take creatine monohydrate as a dietary supplement. In addition, healthy people who take creatine monohydrate, and those who take creatine monohydrate for other reasons, have not reported any side effects.
When should we start creatine?
The best time to start a creatine monohydrate supplement in children with DMD is not known, but because there are no known side effects, it’s reasonable for you and your doctor to consider it from the time of diagnosis.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Neurology department. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed June 2018.
This information is awaiting routine review. Please always seek the most recent advice from a registered and practising clinician.
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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.