Dwarfism is a condition of short stature. It is defined by the advocacy group Little People of America (LPA) as an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches or under, as a result of a medical or genetic condition. Although other groups may extend the criteria for certain forms of dwarfism to 5 feet, the average height of an adult with dwarfism is 4 feet. There are two main categories of dwarfism -- disproportionate and proportionate. Disproportionate dwarfism is characterized by an average-size torso and shorter arms and legs or a shortened trunk with longer limbs. In proportionate dwarfism, the body parts are in proportion but shortened.
• An average-size trunk
• Short arms and legs
• Short fingers, often with a wide separation between the middle and ring fingers
• Limited mobility at the elbows
• A disproportionately large head, with a prominent forehead and a flattened bridge of the nose
• Measurements: Measurement of height, weight and head circumference. This is important for identifying abnormal growth, such as delayed growth or a disproportionately large head. If any trends in these charts are a concern, then pediatrician may make more-frequent measurements.
• Appearance: Many distinct facial and skeletal features are associated with each of several dwarfism disorders.
• Imaging technology: Imaging studies, such as X-rays, can indicate abnormalities of the skull and skeleton. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may reveal abnormalities of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus, both of which play a role in hormone function.