Dwarfism is generally defined as an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches or less. Patients are often referred to as “little people”. There are more than 200 different types of dwarfism and most are known as skeletal dysplasia, which are conditions of abnormal bone growth. These occur in 1-3 of every 10,000 births. The most common skeletal dysplasia is achondroplasia, a short-limb dysplasia that occurs in about 1 of every 20,000 babies of all races and ethnicities. Other relatively common genetic conditions that result in short stature include diastrophic dysplasia, pseudoachondroplasia, spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital (SEDc) and osteogenesis imperfecta (OI).
Causes Most types of dwarfism are caused by a spontaneous genetic mutation in the egg or sperm cell prior to conception. What prompts the gene to mutate is not yet understood. The change is random and unpreventable, and can occur in any pregnancy.
Misconceptions Many wrongly believe that people of short stature have limited intellectual abilities or personality disorders. In fact, most individuals with short stature achieve a full and rich life, and are able to be very productive members of society.
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