Restricted growth (dwarfism)

Symptoms of restricted growth

People with restricted growth (dwarfism) will probably have other symptoms that are associated with the health condition responsible for their short stature.

Symptoms commonly seen in people with proportionate and disproportionate short stature are outlined below.

Proportionate short stature

People with proportionate short stature (PSS) grow very slowly but their body parts are in proportion.

PSS can be caused by a growth hormone deficiency. Children with a growth hormone deficiency from birth can have repeated episodes of low blood sugar.

Disproportionate short stature

People with disproportionate short stature (DSS) may also have one or more of the following features or symptoms:

  • Bowed legs.
  • Scoliosis  – the spine curves to one side.
  • Kyphosis  – the upper spine curves outwards.
  • Back problems – in certain conditions, the spinal problems above may lead to compression of the spinal cord and nerves leaving the spine. This causes pain and numbness in the hips, knees and legs, and can make it difficult to move around.
  • Top-heavy head in comparison to the rest of the body – this makes it hard to balance.
  • Sleep apnoea  – this sleep disorder causes irregular breathing at night and excessive sleepiness during the day.
  • Hearing difficulties – young children may have hearing difficulties and problems with speech and language.
  • Osteoarthritis  – this type of arthritis particularly affects the hip and knee joints in DSS. If other joints are also affected, it may be very difficult to move around. In some conditions, the joints cannot be fully straightened.
  • Weakness in the neck – in certain conditions, there may be weakness of the joints between the bones in the neck, which must be identified and treated early.
  • Hydrocephalus  – this is excess fluid in the brain cavities.
Last updated: 18 July 2012

Continue to next section: Causes of restricted growth