Dwarfism is defined as a genetic or medical condition where an adult is a person of short stature- 4 ft 10 inches or less. The average adult height among individuals with dwarfism is 4 feet (122 cm). Medical conditions present at birth or appearing in early childhood limit overall growth and development.

There are two categories that dwarfism is divided into:

  • Disproportionate dwarfism; A condition where some parts of the body are small and others are of average size or above average size
  • Proportionate dwarfism; A condition where the all parts of the body are small, in turn making the body look proportionally small



Signs and symptoms of disproportionate dwarfism include:

  • Short limbs
  • Average size or short trunk
  • Disproportionally large head
  • Limited mobility at the elbows
  • An adult height around 4 feet (122 cm)
  • Progressive development of bowed legs
  • Progressive development of swayed lower back


Signs and symptoms of proportionate dwarfism include:

  • Height below the third percentile on standard pediatric growth charts
  • Slower growth rate
  • Slow or no sexual development during the teen years



Most dwarfism-related conditions are genetic disorders, resulting from genetic mutation in either the father’s sperm or the mother’s egg but the causes of some disorders remain unknown. The most common cause of dwarfism is a disorder called achondroplasia, which causes disproportionately short stature. An individual with achondroplasia mostly likely received one mutated copy of the gene associated with the disorder and one normal copy.

Other possible causes may include:

  • Turner syndrome: A condition which affects only girls and women and results when a sex chromosome (chromosome X) is missing or partly missing
  • Growth hormone deficiency
  • Malnutrition



Complications of disproportionate dwarfism can include:

  • Bowing of the legs
  • Sleep apnea
  • Excess fluid around the brain
  • Jam packed teeth
  • Pressure on the spinal cord
  • Slow development in motor skills
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Weight gain
  • A C-section (for pregnant women with disproportionate dwarfism)

Complications of proportionate dwarfism can include:

  • Poorly developed organs (heart problems)
  • Absence of sexual maturation
  • Growth hormone deficiency
  • Poor social interaction or isolation
  • Poor self-esteem