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Proportional dwarfism is a condition in which a person is abnormally short but all of his body parts are proportional. It is usually caused by a growth hormone deficiency or Turner syndrome. These medical conditions develop at birth or while a child is very young and are responsible for the slow growth that people with this condition experience.
People who have proportional dwarfism as the result of growth hormone deficiency usually grow at a slower rate than their peers. This is caused by the pituitary not producing enough of the growth hormone that a child needs. Teens who suffer from this lack of growth hormone may experience late sexual development or none at all. If the deficiency is caught early enough, hormone replacements can be used to treat this condition.
Turner syndrome is a problem that only attacks girls, because the disorder clings to the X chromosome. Parents who have a little girl with Turner syndrome may notice that the child has a wide neck and chest, short hands and a small jaw. Girls with proportional dwarfism that results from Turner syndrome will not have a menstrual cycle and will be infertile, meaning they will not be able to have children naturally.
Parents with children who have proportional dwarfism may see signs as early as birth or early childhood. Problems sometimes do not develop until a child has reached puberty. A doctor will keep track of the child’s growth. X-rays and blood tests may also be helpful in determining whether a child has proportional dwarfism or any other kind of dwarfism. Any concerns that a parent has should be discussed with the child’s doctor so treatments can begin as soon as possible.
Teenagers and young adults with proportional dwarfism may experience teasing or feel different from their peers, so their parents may need to reassure them and talk to them about what they are experiencing. Most people with this condition are of normal intelligence if no other disorders complicate their dwarfism. On average, they live long, normal lives.
When men are less than 5 feet (1.5 m) tall and women are less than 4 feet 8 inches (1.4 m) tall, they are considered to have dwarfism. There are many types of dwarfism, and many of them are genetically passed from parent to child. Some kinds of dwarfism are the result of disorders, problems that occur during birth, or environmental factors.