Dwarfism: causes, symptoms and associated disorders

The process by which humans move from prenatal to adulthood is complex and fraught with possible complications. There are, for example, many genetic diseases that affect stature and can dramatically worsen a person’s quality of life if proper measures are not taken. Dwarfism, for example, is one of these anomalies.

People who have dwarfism in any of its variants may not only experience the consequences of having to interact with spaces and architectures that are not designed for them, but also they usually have complications related to the movement and use of the joints and, on the other hand, they are at a higher risk of feeling psychological discomfort related to self-esteem and self-conception.

Let’s see what this anomaly is.

What is dwarfism?

Dwarfism is a change in the height of a person, which is well below the average. In other words, taking as a reference the average size of each population group divided by sex, the person with dwarfism does not reach the minimum marked by three standard deviations from the mean.

Why is it not a disease

Dwarfism itself is not a disease or disorder, but the expression of certain developmental alterations that can cause disease to develop alongside slow or limited growth.

Strictly speaking, people with dwarfism are only characterized by being statistically much smaller than normal, which in itself does not necessarily lead to significant health problems.

In practice, however, this poses problems, in particular regarding weight distribution and its effect on the jointsAs many individuals with this disorder are not only below normal, but their proportions are also very different from that of an adult without dwarfism.

For example, in many cases the head is proportionately very large (macrocephaly) and the limbs are very short, which causes the thorax to tilt forward and the head back to maintain an upright position. maintain a stable center of gravity. This causes problems over time.

However, the characteristics of people with dwarfism vary widely depending on the cause of the disorder.

The distinction between short stature and dwarfism

Usually, this “height threshold” which serves to demarcate where dwarfism begins is approximately 140 cm in men and 160 cm in women. Although this criterion is nuanced, as it also depends on the height of the parents, it is understood that even in very short people it is normal for the height of the parents. the offspring store to approach statistical normality, A phenomenon known as mean regression.

In addition, it is possible to take as a reference another measurement to determine cases of dwarfism. For example, the presence of macrocephaly (The size of the head larger than expected in proportion to what the rest of the body occupies) is associated with many cases of this anomaly, although it can also appear in people of normal height.

In cases where the person is abnormally low but no illness is associated with this information or a specific cause and the body proportions are normal, they are not considered examples of dwarfism and are called “idiopathic shorts”, Assuming they are the simple expression of inherited genes.

Types of dwarfism according to the causes

As we have seen, dwarfism is an anomaly derived from the expression of certain diseases which they do not have to be alike in their origin.

The most common diseases that cause dwarfism are:


this disease it produces about 70% of cases of dwarfism. It is genetically rooted and is expressed before birth, causing the limbs and thorax to grow as large as the head due to abnormalities in the formation of cartilage.

celiac disease

We have seen that the disease it produces problems in cases where gluten is ingested it is also associated with the onset of dwarfism as one of its symptoms.

Growth hormone problems

In this type of dwarfism, the cause lies in insufficient secretion of growth hormone by the pituitary gland of the brain. These cases can be corrected by providing more of this substance artificially.


A deficit in bone development due to problems with mineralization of these structures with sufficient amounts of phosphorus and calcium. In this disease the bones are fragile and break easily, in addition to not reaching the expected size.

Possible psychological interventions

People with dwarfism should not develop psychological problems, but their problems of social adaptation and the possible appearance of discomfort related to the symptoms of associated diseases they can make them a potentially vulnerable population group.

Leave a Comment