Despite misconceptions, dwarfism is not a disease or developmental disorder. Different organizations have different criteria for what dwarfism entails. For example, Little People of America is an advocacy group that defines dwarfism as any condition that causes a fully grown adult to have a height under 4 feet 10 inches. Many organizations and individuals, particularly in the medical community, prefer to use the term “short stature” rather than dwarfism. The clinical definition of short stature is a height within the lowest 2.3 percent of the general population.
Ultimately, there are hundreds of different conditions that cause short stature. Due to this, physicians categorize the occurrences based on whether the factors cause proportionate or disproportionate dwarfism. Proportionate dwarfism describes an individual whose body parts, while small, retain similar proportions to an average body. Hormone deficiencies are the most common cause of proportionate dwarfism. In such cases, hormone treatments can help infants or children grow to an average height in adulthood.
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