Pituitary dwarfism is a medical condition in which the pituitary gland does not produce enough growth hormones, thereby resulting in short stature. The article provides some basic information on this condition.
Dwarfism is characterized by slow and delayed growth that results in short stature. Affected individuals have a height of 4′ 10” or less, as adults. In majority of cases, the height of the affected individuals lies between 2′ 8” to 4′ 8”.
Pituitary dwarfism is one of the subtypes of dwarfism that occurs due to the malfunctioning of the pituitary gland. Children who are affected by this condition appear normal at birth, and have normal physical characteristics. However, the inability of the pituitary gland to produce sufficient amounts of growth hormone results in stunted growth and short stature.
This condition occurs due to the deficiency of human growth hormone, which in turn is a result of impaired functioning of the pituitary gland. In some cases, malfunctioning of the gland might be due to the presence of a tumor or a cyst. Each human cell contains 46 chromosomes arranged in 23 pairs, and several genes are present on these chromosomes. A disruption in these chromosomes or mutation in either the father’s sperm or the mother’s egg could also be a contributing factor. In some cases, genetic defects are also linked to other types of dwarfism, such as Turner Syndrome and achondroplasia.
Unlike primordial dwarfism, in which the symptoms are present from embryonic stage, the symptoms of pituitary dwarfism start appearing at the age of 6 – 12 years, and worsen thereafter. The symptoms include:
- Short stature
- Delayed growth
- An average-sized torso
- Short fingers, with wide gap between the middle finger and the ring finger
- Elbows with restricted mobility
- Short arms and legs
- Head that is larger than normal
- Prominent forehead, with flattened bridge of the nose
- Bowed legs
- Sway in the lower back
- Low blood glucose level, which occurs due to the impaired function of the pituitary gland.
As this condition is due to lack of growth hormone in the body, the treatment involves hormone replacement therapy, which will prove to be effective only if the child’s growth plates have not yet joined together. Growth plates refer to the area of growing tissue near the ends of the long bones in children and adolescents. Once the growth is complete, the growth plates are replaced by solid bones in adolescents. Thus, early diagnosis and treatment of growth hormone deficiency is essential, which is why a pediatric endocrinologist must be consulted at the earliest. Moreover, delay in treatment also increases the risk of complications associated with this disorder.
The prognosis varies, depending on the type of dwarfism. Although, affected people may remain small in stature, they do pass through the stage of puberty and sexual maturity. However, an early treatment helps reduce the risks of severe complications in the future.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.