What is Dwarfism?
Dwarfism is a condition in which a person has a short stature from a genetic or medical condition. Dwarfism is generally referred to as an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches (147 centimeters) or below. The average adult height amongst people with Dwarfism is 4 feet (122 cm).
Types of Dwarfism
Several medical conditions cause Dwarfism. Ordinarily, the disorders are divided into two broad categories.
Disproportionate Dwarfism: This means some parts of the body are small, whereas other parts are average or slightly above-average. Disorders causing disproportionate Dwarfism hinders bones growth.
Proportionate Dwarfism: A body is referred to as proportionately small if all body parts are small and all have the same degree. Most times, they appear to be proportioned like an average stature body. Medical conditions during birth or early childhood could limit the general growth and development of the body.
Some people prefer being referred to as “little people” or having a “short stature” rather than being called a “dwarf” or “dwarfism.” So it’s important to be very much aware of what one who has this condition prefers being referred to as. Dwarfism does not include having a family history of short stature that is a short height that is most times considered a normal variation with normal bone development.
Symptoms of Dwarfism
Signs and symptoms of Dwarfism (excluding having a short stature) differs across the various spectrum of disorders.
Symptoms of Disproportionate Dwarfism
Most people with Dwarfism have conditions that cause disproportionately short stature, which means that the person has an average-size trunk and really short limbs, but in some cases, some people may have a very short trunk and shortened (disproportionately large) limbs. In this type of case, the head is disproportionately large compared to that of the body.
However, most people with disproportionate Dwarfism have normal intellectual capacities and abilities. There are rare exceptions to these cases, and they usually result from a secondary factor such as extra fluid around the brain (hydrocephalus).
The most encountered cause of Dwarfism is a disorder called “Achondroplasia,” which causes disproportionately short stature.
This disorder usually results in the following:
- An average size trunk
- Short arms and legs (particularly short upper arms and upper legs
- Limited mobility
- Short fingers (often with a wide separation of middle and ring fingers)
- The progressive development of bowed legs
- An adult height of around 4 feet 122cm
- The progressive development of swayed lower back
- A disproportionately big head with a prominent forehead and a flattened bridge nose
Another cause of disproportionate Dwarfism is a disorder that is usually rarely known as Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia Congenital (SEDC).
Signs may include:
· A short neck
· A very short trunk
· Shortened arms and legs
· Broad rounded chest
· Average size hands and feet
· Slightly flattened cheekbones
· Opening in the roof of the mouth
· Vision and Instability problems
· Arthritis and problems with joint movement
· Progressive hunching curvature of the upper spine
· Adult height ranging from 3 feet (91cm) to just over 4 feet (122cm)
Symptoms of Proportionate Dwarfism
Growth hormone deficiency is also a common cause of proportionate Dwarfism. This happens when there’s a failure of the pituitary gland to produce an adequate amount of growth hormone, which is a prerequisite for the growth of childhood.
- Growth rate slower than what’s expected for age.
- Height is considered to be below the third percentile on standard pediatric growth charts.
- No or delayed sexual development during the teen years.
Causes of Dwarfism
Most dwarfism-related conditions are linked to genetic disorders, but the causes of some disorders are still yet unknown. Most cases of Dwarfism come about from a random genetic mutation in either the father’s sperm or the mother’s egg rather than from the combination of the parent’s complete genetic makeup.
About 80 percent of people with achondroplasia condition are born to parents with average-size height. A person with this condition and with two average-size parents has a mutated gene connected to the disorder and also a normal gene. A person with the disorder may as well pass either a mutated or normal gene to his or her children.
This is a condition that affects only the female gender (girls and women), which results from when a sex chromosome (X chromosome) is partially or solely missing.
Growth Hormone Deficiency
The causes of growth hormone deficiency can sometimes be linked to a genetic mutation or injury. However, for most people, the cause of this disorder has not been identified.
Other causes of Dwarfism may include
- Other genetic disorders
- Deficiencies in hormones
- Poor nutrition.
And in some other cases, the cause is unknown.
Complications that Arise from Dwarfism
Complications of dwarfism-related disorders can hugely differ, but some complications are common to several conditions.
Complications of Disproportionate Dwarfism
In Disproportionate Dwarfism, the characteristics of the features of the skull, spine, and limbs shared by most forms result in some common problems.
- Crowded teeth
- Excess fluid around the brain
- Pressure on the spinal cord located at the base of the skull
- Bowing of the legs
- Sleep apnea
- Motor skills delay development such as sitting, crawling, and walking
- Progressive severe hunching
- Weight gain that can further contribute to more problems with joint and of the spine and place pressure on the nerves
During pregnancy, women with disproportionate Dwarfism may develop respiratory problems. A C-section (cesarean delivery) is almost always performed because both the size and shape of the pelvis may never allow for a successful vaginal delivery.
Complications that Arise from Proportionate Dwarfism
Most problems that arise from this condition, such as problems from growth and development, often result in complications with poorly developed organs.
If there’s an absence of sexual maturity that’s normally associated with growth hormone deficiency or Turner syndrome usually affects both physical development and social functioning of the body.
When to See a Doctor
In most significant cases, the signs and symptoms of disproportionate Dwarfism are often present at birth or starts developing during the break stage of early infancy.
In cases of proportionate Dwarfism, they may not be immediately visible. However, seeing a child’s doctor is important if there are cases as regards your child’s growth or overall development.
Most people with dwarfism disorder prefer not to being referred to as one. However, some people may call themselves dwarfs or little people, or short stature people. The word “midget” is usually considered an offensive word.
Average height people may have the wrong ideology about people with Dwarfism. There is a conception, most especially in modern movies pertaining to people with Dwarfism. These misconceptions can have an effect on a person’s self-esteem and as well as limited opportunities for employment.
Children with Dwarfism are most vulnerable to teasing, ridicule, and mockery from peer mates. Also, because Dwarfism is an uncommon condition, children may feel isolated from their peers.
It is important to know that people with dwarfism condition are human beings and did not desire to be born that way and, as such, should be treated humanly and not with disdain. They also deserve to have opportunities a person with a bigger height would have too.
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