Dwarfism is a medical condition that manifests in a short stature. Sometimes, dwarfism is defined as having an adult height of less than 4 feet 10 inches (147 cm). Dwarfism is actually an umbrella term that covers around 200 different medical conditions. Signs and symptoms of these conditions may severely vary and the most common type is known as achondroplasia. Achondroplasia is actually responsible for about 70 percent of dwarfism cases, and people suffering from this condition are usually recognized by limbs that are proportionally shorter than their trunk, larger head and typical facial features.
Causes of Dwarfism
Dwarfism is sometimes caused by a disease or a genetic disorder, but it may also occur as a natural consequence of person’s genetics. Majority of dwarfism cases result form achondroplasia and growth hormone deficiency.
Achondroplasia is an autosomal dominant disorder caused by faulty allele in patient’s genome. These patients actually have problems with an inhibitor that regulates bone growth. The defect is most probably inherited from the father, especially if the father is older than 35.
Growth hormone deficiency may also be responsible for someone’s dwarfism. This medical condition occurs when the body doesn’t make sufficient amounts of growth hormone. This hormone is one of the key hormones in the body, as it stimulates growth and reproduction of cells.
Dwarfism life expectancy
In most cases, people affected with dwarfism will have a normal lifespan. These individuals usually have perfectly normal intelligence and may live healthy and independently, as any other individual. In some rare cases, patient’s intelligence may be affected due to the complications associated with hydrocephalus or other central nervous system disorders. Life span of these patients is normal if there are no serious complications associated with the disease. In general, these people may live approximately 10 years less than the general population. However, children affected with Homozygous achondroplasia are usually either stillborn or die shortly after birth. This condition is associated with severe respiratory distress caused by rib-cage malformation and deformity. Even though their intelligence and lifespan are usually normal, people affected with dwarfism are usually suffering from a lack of muscle mass (known as hypotonia) and they are facing a lot of challenges in their lives. This is a highly visible condition and it often carries many negative connotations in the society. People with dwarfism are dealing with a lot of stereotypes in their daily life, and they are constantly fighting against discrimination. However, there are a lot of support groups and institutions in a mission to improve the quality of life for Little People, and remove all social barriers, myths and false negative stereotypes about them.