Facts About Dwarfism
Dwarfism is a medical or genetic condition that results in an adult height of 4'10" or shorter. Most occurrences of dwarfism result from a random genetic mutation in either the sperm or the egg rather than either parent's complete genetic makeup.
Most children with dwarfism, or skeletal dysplasia, are born to parents of normal height. There are over 200 forms of dwarfism. The most common form, Achondroplasia, accounts for 70% of all cases.
Many children with some form of dwarfism are adopted by families in the USA each year. Parents with this condition, or who are currently parenting a child with skeletal dysplasia, are strongly encouraged to consider the adoption of a child with this medical condition. Of course, all qualified families are encouraged to learn more about adopting a child with dwarfism!
Achondroplasia results in arms and legs that are disproportionate to head and trunk size. In disproportionate dwarfism, children are greater risk for additional health problems including:
- Delays in motor skills development, such as sitting up, crawling and walking
- Frequent ear infections and risk of hearing loss
- Bowing of the legs
- Difficulty breathing during sleep (sleep apnea)
- Pressure on the spinal cord at the base of the skull
- Excess fluid around the brain (hydrocephalus)
- Crowded teeth
- Progressive, severe hunching or swaying of the back
- In adulthood, narrowing of the channel in the lower spine, resulting in pressure on the spinal cord and subsequent pain or numbness in the legs
- Arthritis in adulthood
- Weight gain that can further complicate problems with joints and the spine and place pressure on nerves
Treatment should be symptom-focused based on complications noted above. With some adaptations being made for their height difference, children and adults with dwarfism lead normal lives, even having children of their own.