Dwarfism is a medical condition that results in the underdevelopment of the body. It is the result of a developmental anomaly, of nutritional or hormone deficiencies, or of other diseases. A dwarf in adulthood may be as small as 2½ feet tall. The proportions of body to head and limbs may be normal or abnormal. The dwarf may also be deformed, and may suffer from mental retardation, depending on the cause of the condition.
Achondroplasia, by far the most common form of dwarfism, occurs in one in every 20,000 births in the United States. It is a developmental anomaly that affects the growth of the bones. The patient's trunk is usually normal, but the head is unusually large and the arms and legs unusually small. Those who reach adulthood do not suffer any lessening of their mental or sexual abilities, and may have unusual muscular strength. Achondroplasia does not significantly shorten life span.
There are more than 320 medical conditions known as dwarfism. A detailed study of dwarfism is outside the scope of this Web site. There are several good sites that address this medical condition.
For further reading we recommend the following articles in Findarticles from the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine: