Dwarfism is basically a medical disorder. According to the group Little People of America (LPA), an adult (male or female) under 4 feet and 10 inches, or below in height can be termed as a dwarf. This does not mean that the person is intellectually impaired, as has been proven by research. In fact, most of them have normal intelligence, and can lead long, fulfilling lives just like their average-sized counterparts. More than 200 medical conditions can lead to this disorder, of which more than 70 to 80% of cases are due to the medical condition named achondroplasia.
Most of the causes are related to genetic disorders or mutations. However, some of them are still unexplained. Some of the researched ones have been listed below.
Nearly 70% of all cases are due to this medical condition. It is a genetic condition that makes the arms and legs short, in comparison to the head and the trunk. Here, genetic mutation occurs during conception, when the mother's egg is fertilized by the father's sperm. In this case, the fetus receives one mutated copy of the gene associated with dwarfism, and one normal copy.
In cases where both parents have achondroplasia, then the risk of passing the mutated gene to the fetus increases four folds, which could lead to a fatal condition known as homozygous achondroplasia. However, there have been many instances where people born with achondroplasia have parents with average height. Although, it is known that this disorder occurs during conception, why and how it translates into achondroplasia is still unknown.
Random alteration, or deletion of the X chromosome during conception, either in the father's sperm or the mother's egg results in the genetic disorder known as Turner syndrome. This chromosomal disorder occurs only in girls, because one of the sex chromosomes goes missing during conception. For a fetus to be a female, it should have two X chromosomes. A girl diagnosed with a Turner syndrome will have one copy of the female sex chromosome instead of two. Turner syndrome is characterized by many physical abnormalities, such as short stature, broad chest, low set ears, etc.
Growth Hormone Deficiency
This is another reason for this disorder. In this condition, the body produces insufficient amount of human growth hormone, somatotropin, which is essential for stimulating growth and cell reproduction. This is one of the main causes of pituitary dwarfism. Growth hormone deficiency occurs due to a number of reasons, which include poor nutrition and impaired functioning of the pituitary gland.
As said earlier, there are many unexplained reasons for this condition, some of which include primordial dwarfism, spondyloepiphyseal dysplasias, diastrophic dysplasia, etc.
It is a rare form of this condition that exhibits itself much before birth. An ultrasound diagnoses the fetus as being small for its gestational age, or as having some growth deficiencies, which could be early symptoms. Its causes are not yet known, but it could be due to a gene mutation.
It should be noted that dwarfism is a disorder, not a disease. Although it could lead to further complications, what is more important is that people suffering from it should not let this condition be a hindering factor for them, as they can lead perfectly active and healthy lives, just like any of us.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.