Dwarfism is a medical or genetic condition that prevents a person from growing. According to Little People of America, people less than 4 feet 10 inches in height suffer from dwarfism. Some groups consider 5 feet the maximum height for a person to have dwarfism. The average adult with dwarfism is just at four feet.
There are two different types of dwarfism.
- Disproportionate dwarfism - Disproportionate dwarfism is a type of dwarfism results in an average size torso and short limbs or trunk. Ultimately, disproportionate dwarfism is exactly what it sounds like; some body parts are normal while other parts are short.
- Proportionate dwarfism - Proportionate dwarfism is a type of dwarfism where the body parts are all short.
More than 200 different conditions can cause dwarfism. There are different types of dwarfism. Achondroplasia is one type of dwarfism. Around 80% of individuals diagnosed with dwarfism have achondroplasia. Children born with achondroplasia usually have a larger than normal head, shorter limbs, and a disproportionally smaller abdomen.
Another cause of dwarfism is a deficit in the amount of growth hormone a person has. Children who do not have a normal amount of growth hormone will have stunted or slowed down growth. They might also be delayed in going through the process of puberty. There are other causes of dwarfism including pseudoacondroplasia, Noonan syndrome, hypothyroidism, and Turner syndrome.
Dwarfism is usually identified in childhood with a physical exam. Genetic testing might also be needed to learn which type of dwarfism a child has developed. Dwarfism is not preventable since it is a genetic condition. Children who are diagnosed to with dwarfism may have ongoing health conditions as they age and mature. Some of these conditions can be treated. Many end up having pain and trouble moving as they age. Sometimes braces, surgery, or physical therapy is needed for those diagnosed with dwarfism in order for an individual to stay mobile.