1 in 10,000 people!!
Dwarfism is a disorder that affects a person's stature. An adult shorter than 4 feet and 10 inches (147 cm) is considered to be a dwarf. Dwarfism can be caused by over 200 types of conditions, two examples are inheritance or hormone deficiencies
Categories of Dwarfism
There are 2 major categories of Dwarfism - Proportionate or Disproportionate.
- Proportionate: Proportionate dwarfism is marked by body parts being proportional but smaller.
- Disproportionate: Disproportionate dwarfism is characterized by one or more body parts being unusually large or small compared to the rest of the body. For example one's trunk would be normal but the limbs would be shorter.
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A person can get affected by Dwarfism through genetic changes (mutation) in the cells or genetic changes inherited by one or both the parents. For example 4 out of 5 with ahondroplasia (a type of dwarfism) are born to average size parents. The most common reason is a skeletal dysplasia, such as achondroplasia
Dwarfism has other causes, including metabolic or hormonal disorders in infancy or childhood. For example Pituitary Dwarfism is a type of dwarfism where the bodies are short but proportional. It is caused by a dysfunction in the Pituitary Gland (the growth hormones are not secreted by the Anterior Pituitary). African pygmies are an example of this type of Dwarfism.
Some Symptoms and Characteristics
- An average-size trunk
- Short arms and legs, with particularly short upper arms and upper legs
- Short fingers, often with a wide separation between the middle and ring fingers
- Limited mobility at the elbows
- A disproportionately large head, with a prominent forehead and a flattened bridge of the nose
- Progressive development of bowed legs
- Progressive development of swayed lower back
- A short neck
- Shortened arms and legs
- Hip deformities that result in thighbones turning inward
- A foot that's twisted or out of shape
- Progressive hunching curvature of the upper spine
- Common Surgical Problems: Inserting rods or staples to help correct the shape of the spine. Surgeries are also done to get relief from the pain of joints that wear out under the stress of bearing weight differently with limited flexibility.
- Limb Lengthening: A long bone is divided in two or more sections, then the sections are slightly separated. The surgeon then braces the bone and limbs with external metal scaffolding.
- Hormone Therapy: Growth hormone deficiency is treated with injections of a synthetic version of the hormone. For example a girl with turner syndrome requires estrogen and related hormone therapy to start puberty.