Dwarfism

dwarfism short stature

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is Dwarfism?

Dwarfism is another name for a condition that causes a person to be significantly short in stature in adulthood. Some groups define this as an adult height lesser than 5 feet while others place the upper limit at 4 feet 10 inches. There a numerous identified causes of this condition. The two most common disorders responsible for dwarfism as achondroplasia and growth-hormone deficiency. The common terms ‘dwarf’ and ‘midget’ are generally considered offensive or derogatory. Some groups prefer the appellation ‘little people’.

 

What are the causes of Dwarfism?

dwarfismDwarfism may be congenital or acquired. Congenital conditions are those in which the disorder is already present at birth.

This may take the form of abnormal bone growth or hormone deficiencies.

Disproportionate dwarfism is often attributable to congenital abnormalities. Acquired causes are those that develop post birth and leave an adverse impact on childhood growth leading to restricted adult stature.

Examples include malnutrition and the use of steroid medications.

A fuller list of causes is provided below:

  • Constitutional or familial short stature: Being born to parents with lesser than average height can lead to dwarfism.
  • Skeletal dysplasia: This is a group of more than 200 disorders affecting normal bone and cartilage development.
  • Endocrine disorders such as hypopituitarism and hypothyroidism. These may be congenital (as in Turner syndrome) or acquired conditions.
  • Absent or incomplete chromosomes as in the case of Turner syndrome and Down’s syndrome.
  • Genetic disorders such as Bloom syndrome and Russell Silver syndrome can cause proportionate dwarfism.
  • Growth retardation in utero: For often unknown reasons, some fetuses fail to grow normally during gestation.
  • Chronic systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis in childhood. Disorders and infections affecting the kidneys, liver, and heart may also be responsible for growth retardation.
  • Prolonged use of steroid medications, often for treatment of chronic diseases such as those mentioned immediately above.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Malabsorption of nutrients as a result of celiac disease.
  • Psychosocial causes such as emotional neglect or abuse in childhood.

 

What Are The Types of Dwarfism?

Dwarfism can take two main forms:

Disproportionate Dwarfism

Individuals belonging to this category will typically display either an average-sized trunk with shortened limbs or average-sized limbs with a smaller torso. Achondroplasia is one of the most common causes of disproportionate dwarfism. It is discussed below:

  • Achondroplasia: This is a form of skeletal dysplasia. In other words, it involves abnormal development of the skeletal system. These abnormalities are visible even at birth. Individuals born with achondroplasia typically exhibit large heads with protruding jaws and prominent foreheads. They also tend to be bow-legged. Achondroplasia is an autosomal dominant disorder. This means that having a single copy of the defective gene is sufficient to manifest this disorder. This gene mutation is not always inherited, though. It can occur spontaneously upon conception.

Proportionate Dwarfism:

dwarfism short statureIndividuals under this category will have all their body parts in proportion with one another. The most common cause for this is hormone deficiency. An example is described below.

  • Pituitary Dwarfism: The pituitary gland is responsible for secreting an important hormone known as growth hormone. As its name indicates, this hormone promotes growth. The reasons for growth hormone deficiency can range from genetic disorders, other endocrine deficiencies, tumors of the pituitary gland, trauma to the gland or removal of the gland. In some cases, the cause is unknown. In instances of congenital growth hormone deficiency, an abnormally low rate of growth is observable right from infancy. Depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency, a normal onset of puberty may be delayed or absent entirely. The onset of an acquired deficiency in adulthood as a result of trauma or removal of the pituitary gland does not result in dwarfism although other effects such as loss of bone density may be observed.

 

Clinical complications

The list below enumerates some complications associated with congenital as well as acquired forms, proportionate as well as disproportionate forms of dwarfism:

  • Delayed developmental milestones with regard to motor abilities.
  • Poor development of internal organs.
  • The delayed or absent onset of puberty.
  • Recurrent ear infections.
  • Difficulties with hearing or vision.
  • Difficulties with breathing or swallowing.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in within the brain.
  • Pregnancy complications. Women with dwarfism who are pregnant will usually have to deliver by means of Caesarean section.
  • Infertility.
  • Joint degeneration.

 

Diagnosis

dwarfism scoliosisThe following procedures are helpful in making a diagnosis of the various forms of dwarfism:

  • Physical examination.
  • Medical history. The patient may have a history of endocrine disorders or other diseases that may have a bearing on the retardation of growth.
  • Blood and urine tests can help identify endocrine disorders and nutrient deficiencies. Blood tests can also help detect chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Growth hormone stimulation test helps detect growth hormone deficiency.
  • Diagnostic imaging can help detect features such as tumors of the pituitary gland. It assesses the condition of internal organs. X-rays help to study skeletal abnormalities such as spinal defects.
  • Biopsy.

 

Treatment and prevention

Treatment – Most dwarfism treatments do not increase stature but may correct or relieve problems caused due to complications.

  • Surgery – This treatment method may be used for those who have been diagnosed with disproportionate dwarfism. Correction of the direction of bone growth, stabilizing and correcting the shape of the spine, placing a shunt to remove excess fluid from the brain if it occurs etc.
  • Limb lengthening – Waiting for the person with dwarfism to be old enough to participate in this surgical decision is important.
  • Hormone therapy – In most cases, children with dwarfism receive daily injections for several years until they reach a maximum adult height. Treatment with synthetic versions of the growth hormone may increase the final height in some individuals.

Prevention – There are no known prevention methods for dwarfism. Taking the steps given below, the chances of dwarfism can be avoided or reduced.

  • Avoid radiation – Pregnant women should try and stay as far away from radiation as possible. As this could affect the growth hormone, hence resulting in dwarfism.
  • Avoid stress – High levels of stress can produce epinephrine (adrenaline) which could reduce the growth hormone levels present in the body and cause dwarfism.

Facts

  • Dwarfism occurs in all races and ethnicity.
  • 80% dwarfs have parents of normal height.
  • Most types of dwarfism have some co-occurring of medical complications.

Facts

  • Dwarfism affects an estimate of 30,000 people in the US and 650,000 people worldwide.
  • Some famous celebrities who are dwarfs – Peter Dinklage, Meredith Eaton, Michael J Anderson, Jason Acuna and Kenny Baker.

Facts

  • 8 out of 10 new case of dwarfism that are known come from new mutation that could happen to any set of parents.
  • Children born from a parent of dwarfism have a 50% chance of developing the condition.
  • According to certain studies, high level of stress produces more epinephrine (adrenaline) which could lead to a restricted growth.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • While referring to them always use an adjective and not a noun.
  • Get regular check-ups done for ear infections, spinal stenosis and sleep apnea.
  • Adults with dwarfism should be monitored and treated for problems that occur throughout their life.
Don'ts
  • Use the word “midget” as it is considered very offensive.
  • Take pictures without asking.
  • Refer to dwarfs as handicapped.

 

 

 

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Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Oil of Oregano: The one-stop essential oil you’ve been looking for Are you plagued by a weak immune system? High body inflammation accompanied by pain and infections? Why not…
Epley maneuver: Why is this the best protection from the symptoms of vertigo? Epley maneuver is an exercise that can treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  It was…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
CBC blood test
CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test refers to the test that measures the number of RBCs, WBCs, etc…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
Bone marrow aspiration Bone marrow aspiration is a process where a sample of the bone marrow is withdrawn from the bone…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
lipase test
Lipase Test A lipase test is a blood test performed to quantitatively measure the level of the enzyme lipase in…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Sushi: health benefits and recipes Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish prepared with vinegared rice served with fish (often raw), vegetables, and other…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…