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Dwarfism - General Info

Dwarfism is a medical term for short stature that results from a particular medical condition. Adult people suffering from dwarfism are less than 4 feet 10 inches tall.

It is estimated that dwarfism may result from around 200 different medical conditions. The condition most commonly runs in families and it may occur even though both parents are of normal height. The transmission of the condition is in this case genetic. People suffering from dwarfism prefer to be called little people. It is essential to known that people suffering from dwarfism are only of short stature. There are no additional abnormalities. Their intelligence is normal and they can perform all the activities like people of normal height.

Causes of Dwarfism

The most common cause of dwarfism is genetic mutation of the particular gene. The mutation is either inherited from one or both parents or occurs spontaneously prior the conception. In case both parents are suffering from dwarfism there is also a chance of their child to be of normal height.

Another cause of dwarfism is achondroplasia. Approximately 80% of all patients suffering from achondroplasia are born to parents of normal height. In such cases the person receives only one mutated gene that is responsible for short stature. The other gene is normal. Patients suffering from achondroplasia are able to transmit the defect gene to their offspring and they may also transfer the healthy gene. Luckily, mortality in people affected by achondroplasia is very close to people who aren't affected by dwarfism — about 10 years less than a life expectancy of people who aren't affected by the disorder. 

Women suffering from Turner syndrome have the entire or one part of the sex chromosome missing. Humans normally have 46 chromosomes out of which there are two sex chromosomes. In women there are two X chromosomes. In Turner syndrome the entire or parts of one X chromosome are missing. One of the characteristics of Turner syndrome is a short statute.

Dwarfism can be additionally associated with the lack of growth hormone. The hormone is normally produced in the pituitary gland and is essential for growth and proper development in children. If there is a lack of the hormone a person may stay short-statured. The lack of the growth hormone develops as a consequence of genetic mutation or is associated with the injury to the brain area in which the pituitary gland is situated.

Primordial dwarfism is a type of dwarfism that occurs before the birth. The condition can be easily confirmed with ultrasound of the fetus and measuring of the length of the baby's limbs.

Apart from the previously mentioned there are several more not so common causes of dwarfism and they include spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, congenital dysplasia, diastrophic dysplasia, pseudoachondroplasia, Noonan syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta etc.

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