Dwarfism is a condition, where the individual affected is much shorter in height than an average person.
Your cute little baby is now growing into an active and energetic toddler, and with each passing day, you love him more. To make sure he’s active and healthy, you’re feeding him proper food and taking care of everything that he needs; and even a teeny little problem can make you concerned.
While there’s a lot you can do about when your kid falls sick, there are some conditions that are genetic, and cannot be tackled, at least not as complete level. Dwarfism is one such condition, and we have give you below the basic information about it, along with its diagnosis and solutions.
What Is Dwarfism?
An adult who is 4 feet 10 inches or under is generally referred as affected by dwarfism. Dwarfism is not an intellectual disability; the child affected is perfectly stable psychologically. In most cases, dwarfism arises due to genetic defects, and a condition known as achondroplasia is thought to be responsible for 70% cases of those affected by dwarfism.
Contrary to the popular belief, dwarfism can and does affect children born to parents of average height. In fact, 4 out of every 5 kids affected by this condition are born to parents having average height. It is also important to note that dwarfism is not a disease that requires a cure; individuals affected by this condition usually live long and have fulfilling lives.
[ Read: How to Increase Height in Children ]
Causes Of Dwarfism:
There are hundreds of possible causes of dwarfism, and in most cases, this condition has a genetic origin. Hormonal and metabolic disorders such as a deficiency of growth hormones is also believed to be a cause of dwarfism.
- Certain chromosomal abnormalities.
- Disorders of the hormonal glands (particularly the pituitary gland), which influence growth and metabolism.
- Problems in absorption of nutrients.
- Metabolic disorders.
- Kidney disorders / diseases.
- Turner’s syndrome.
etc. may be put to blame for an increased risk of dwarfism.
Genetic Mutation: The Common Cause:
Probably the most common cause of dwarfism is a condition known as achondroplasia, which affects about 1 in every 40,000 babies born. Spontaneous genetic mutation in the egg or the sperm before conception is also believed to be a cause of short stature.
What causes these genetic mutations is not clearly understood yet, but if the parents are short, their kids are more likely to fall prey to this condition. In some cases, the odds of passing this condition to the child are much higher; to know more, you should seek the services of a professional genetic counsellor.
Signs And Symptoms Of Dwarfism:
Apart from having a short stature, children with dwarfism display many other signs and symptoms depending on the cause of their condition. Some of them are listed below:
1. An average sized trunk.
2. Short arms and legs, particularly the upper arms and upper legs.
3. Limited mobility at the elbows.
4. Short fingers.
5. Wide separation between the middle and ring fingers.
6. Development of bowed legs.
7. Development of swayed lower back
8. Disproportionately large head.
9. A proportionately large forehead.
10. Flattened bridge of the nose.
11. Hip deformities.
12. Twisted appearance of foot.
13. Flattened cheekbones.
14. Vision and hearing problems (in case of spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital).
15. A short neck.
16. Hunching of the upper curvature of the spine.
17. Growth rate slower than normal.
18. Delayed sexual development.
Prenatal testing can be done to detect the risk of genetically acquired dwarfism in most case, however, most of the time, this condition is not diagnosed until after the child is born. Depending on the type of dwarfism, the doctor may be able to detect this condition immediately after birth.
While there is actually no ‘cure’ for dwarfism in most cases, appropriate measures can be taken to improve the quality of life of the child affected. Dwarfism often tends to cause orthopaedic complications, which can be tackled by the following measures:
1. Corrective surgeries for deformities such as bowed legs, club foot or cleft palate.
2. Tracheotomy to help improve breathing through small airways.
3. Surgery to help widen the spinal cord and relieve compression on the spinal cord.
4. Orthodontic treatment to reduce crowding of teeth due to small jaw.
5. Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles.
6. Nutritional guidance to prevent obesity, which may worsen the skeletal problems.
7. Hormone therapy for children who are affected by glandular problems.
8. Supplementation with nutrients for kids with absorptive problems.
9. Estrogen replacement therapy for girls with Turner’s syndrome to help them achieve sexual development.
[ Read: Nutrition For Kids ]
Points To Remember:
As a parent, you may be concerned about your kid having to face peer pressure for the rest of his life. Many kids do tend to suffer from emotional problems at school and work due to their short stature. However, with the right parental guidance, you can make sure your kid lives his life as any other individual. Here are a few tips to help you.
- Teach your kid to be strong, and not let people’s reactions affect him in a negative way.
- Encourage him to love himself for what he is, and that he is perfectly normal and skilled enough to ace at everything he wants to do.
- Teach your kid to see the glass as half full; do not let his short stature come in the way of him enjoying his life to the fullest.
- Help your kid improve his self esteem and confidence, and show him how having a short height doesn’t affect his success.
- Life is not just about appearance! Remind your child of his achievements and praise him for everything that he does well.
- Encourage your kid to find a hobby, particularly something that drives his passion and helps him get motivated for a goal to achieve.
- Love your child. This is what will finally make him feel safe and better no matter what faces in life.
It is important to remember that a child affected by dwarfism is not different in any way. He too, can grow, develop and progress in every aspect of life as other children, provided he has the same loving care and affection from his parents.
We would like to know your experiences on how you dealt dwarfism in your child.
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