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What is Dwarfism?


Dwarfism is a congenital abnormality attributable to different causes (see the page Principal Causes of Dwarfism under Dwarfism). It is caused by different bone diseases such as achondroplasia, osteogenesis imperfecta, and Morquio syndrome (MPS IV), to name the most common types. There are five-hundred known types of dwarfism in the world, 100 of which are represented in Québec. The diseases that cause dwarfism lead to medical complications such as functional limitations and more or less severe handicaps. All types of dwarfism are universally characterized by significant underdevelopment leading to remarkably smaller than average height (generally less then 1.42 m for adults).

There are two kinds of dwarfism:

  • Disproportionate: these types of dwarfism (achondroplasia, pseudoachondroplasia, Morquio syndrome, Léri-Weill dyschondrosteosis, etc.) affects long bones like those of the arms and legs, but the trunk is unaffected.
  • Proportionate: caused by kidney failure, spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, intra-uterine dwarfism, hypopituitarism, etc., underdevelopment affects the trunk and limbs equally. The body is proportionally small.

Dwarfism can be hereditary (see the page Genetics), but in most cases, dwarfism is caused by a simple genetic mutation (the parents are not carriers and they are not little people, but a spontaneous chromosome anomaly occurs at random). That being said, anyone can have a child of small stature.



© 2011 AQPPT - Translated by George Bravo and Judy Murphy