There are over 300 conditions which can lead to dwarfism. Most of these are a result of a spontaneous genetic mutation that happens before conception within either the eggs or the sperms. Thus, it’s possible for two average sized adults to have a child with short height, while also being possible for people with short heights to have a child that’s normal.
In most cases, genes responsible for dwarfism are passed on from one or both parents to the offspring. The reason behind this mutation is not yet known, because the mutation seems completely random and can occur at any time in any pregnancy. Dwarf parents have, however, greater chances of giving birth to a dwarf child.
Other causes which can lead to dwarfism include hormonal or metabolic disorders during infancy, pituitary gland disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, absorptive problems and kidney disease. There are two types of dwarfism –
• Disproportionate dwarfism
As the name suggests, the body size here is disproportionate, where some parts of the body are big while the others are small in comparison. This kind of dwarfism inhibits growth of bones.
• Proportionate dwarfism
All the body parts are small proportionately, and the person appears to be similar to a child (due to their short height).
Dwarfism is characterized by short height, which has been put at 4 feet and 10 inches or less for an adult. The causes for dwarfism are all genetic, and the common variety is achondroplasia, which accounts for around 70% of all dwarfism cases. A lesser known fact is that 80% of children with achondroplasia are born to parents with average height.
There are some types of dwarfism which can be identified during the prenatal stages of pregnancy via pre-natal testing, but in a majority of the cases, it is not identified until after the birth of the child. In such cases, a doctor takes into account various aspects like the child’s appearance, its X-rays etc to determine what type of dwarfism it has. In most cases, the diagnosis is made quickly after birth.
Even though hormonal imbalances can be treated via special diets and medication, there is no treatment for dwarfism. But this is not to say that these children are free of medical care – it is necessary to get medical attention because there can be complications that can arise as a result of their short stature. In spite of that, people with dwarfism lead normal lives with normal life spans.
The best way to handle a child with dwarfism is to build their self-esteem and confidence right from the start. Treat them according to their age, and not their stature, all the while trying to adapt to their limitations. Encourage them to learn new activities like swimming, dancing, or to take up some sort of hobby like music, art, photography, writing etc. If your child is being bullied at school, talk to the concerned authority to make sure that it doesn’t happen in the future.