Why is the term dwarf considered obnoxious

Dwarfism - Dwarfism

Small size of an organism caused by a lack of growth or genetic mutations
This article is about the disease. For the legendary creature, see Dwarf (Mythology). For other uses, see dwarf.

Dwarfism occurs when an organism is extremely small. In humans, it is sometimes defined as an adult height less than 147 centimeters (4 feet 10 inches), regardless of gender. The average adult height in people with dwarfism is 122 centimeters, although some people with dwarfism are slightly taller. Disproportionate dwarfism is characterized by either short limbs or a short torso. If they are relatively dwarfed, both the limbs and the torso are unusually small. Intelligence is usually normal and most have a near normal life expectancy.

The most common and recognizable form of dwarfism in humans is the genetic disorder achondroplasia, which accounts for 70% of cases. Growth hormone deficiency is responsible for most of the other cases. Treatment depends on the underlying cause. People with genetic disorders can sometimes be treated with surgery or physical therapy. Hormonal imbalances can also be treated with growth hormone therapy before the child's growth plates fuse. Individual accommodations such as special furniture are often used by people with dwarfism. Many self-help groups offer services to support individuals and their discrimination.

In addition to the medical aspect of the disease, there are also social aspects. For a person who is dwarfed, discrimination based on size can lead to ridicule in childhood and discrimination in adulthood. In the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and other English-speaking countries, some of the names some people with dwarfism accept include dwarf , small person (LP) or Person of short stature . Historically, the term "dwarf" was used to describe proportionate dwarfs; However, this term is now considered offensive by some.

Signs and symptoms

Dwarfism occurs in both animals and humans; Horses can have achondroplastic symptoms, as shown here alongside a person with dwarfism.

A defining characteristic of dwarfism is an adult height that is below the 2.3 percentile on the CDC standard growth tables. There are a variety of physical properties. Variations in individuals are identified by diagnosing and monitoring the underlying disorders. There can be no complications if you do not adjust to their size.

Short stature is a common substitute for the term "dwarfism", especially in the medical context. Short stature is clinically defined as a height within the lowest 2.3% of those in the general population. However, those with mild skeletal dysplasia cannot be affected by dwarfism. In some cases of untreated hypochondroplasia, men can grow up to 165 cm. While this is brief in a relative context, it doesn't fall in the extreme areas of the growth charts.

Disproportionate dwarfism is characterized by shortened limbs or a shortened upper body. Achondroplasia has an average trunk with short limbs and a larger forehead. Facial features are often affected and individual parts of the body can be associated with problems. Spinal stenosis, ear infections, and hydrocephalus are common. In the case of spinal dysostosis, one has a small trunk with limbs of average size.

Proportional dwarfism is characterized by a short upper body with short limbs, which leads to a height that is significantly below average. There can be long periods of time without significant growth. Sexual development is often delayed or impaired into adulthood. This dwarfism is caused by an endocrine disorder rather than skeletal dysplasia.

The physical effects of malformed bones vary depending on the disease. Many are joint pain caused by abnormal bone alignment or nerve compression. Early degenerative joint disease, excessive lordosis or scoliosis, and narrowing of the spinal cord or nerve roots can cause pain and disability. Reduced breast size can limit lung growth and reduce lung function. Some forms of dwarfism are associated with dysfunction in other organs, such as the brain or liver, which is sometimes so severe that it is more of an impairment than abnormal bone growth.

The mental effects also vary depending on the underlying syndrome. In most cases of skeletal dysplasia, such as achondroplasia, mental function is not affected. However, there are syndromes that affect the structure of the skull and the growth of the brain and can severely impair mental performance. Unless the brain is directly affected by the underlying disorder, there is little chance of mental impairment due to dwarfism.

Society's psychosocial limitations may be more disabling than physical symptoms, especially in childhood and adolescence, but people with dwarfism differ widely in the extent to which social participation and emotional health are affected.

  • Social prejudice against extreme brevity can reduce social and marital opportunities.
  • Numerous studies have shown that job opportunities are limited. Severe bottlenecks are associated with lower income.
  • Self-esteem can suffer and family relationships can be impaired.
  • Extreme shortness of breath (ranging from 60 to 90 cm, or 2 to 3 feet), if left unaddressed, can interfere with activities of daily living, such as: B. driving or using countertops that were built for taller people. Other common features of dwarfism, such as bent knees and unusually short fingers, can lead to back problems and difficulty walking and handling objects.
  • Children with dwarfism are especially prone to jokes and ridicule from classmates. Because dwarfism is relatively rare, children may feel isolated from their peers.


Dwarfism can result from many medical conditions, each with their own symptoms and causes. Extreme brevity in people with proportional body parts usually has a hormonal cause, such as: B. a growth hormone deficiency earlier than Pituitary dwarfism was called . Achondroplasia accounts for the majority of cases of dwarfism in humans, followed by spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia and diastrophic dysplasia.


The best known and most common form of dwarfism in humans is achondroplasia, which accounts for 70% of cases of dwarfism and occurs in 4 to 15 out of 100,000 live births.

It produces rhizomelic short limbs, increased curvature of the spine, and distortion of the growth of the skull. In achondroplasia, the limbs of the body are proportionally shorter than the trunk (abdominal area), with a larger than average head and characteristic facial features. Achondroplasia is an autosomal dominant disorder caused by the presence of a faulty allele in the genome. If a pair of achondroplasia alleles are present, the result is fatal. Achondroplasia is a mutation in the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3. In connection with achondroplasia, this mutation causes FGFR3 to become constitutively active and inhibit bone growth.

Growth hormone deficiency

Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a condition in which the body does not make enough growth hormone. Growth hormone, also called somatotropin, is a polypeptide hormone that stimulates growth and cell reproduction. If this hormone is absent, stunted or even stopped growth can become noticeable. Children with this disorder can grow slowly and puberty can be delayed for several years or indefinitely. Growth hormone deficiency has no clear cause. It can be caused by mutations of certain genes, damage to the pituitary gland, Turner syndrome, poor diet, or even stress (which leads to psychogenic dwarfism). Laron's syndrome (growth hormone insensitivity) is another cause. People with growth hormone problems are usually proportionate.


Other causes of dwarfism include spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, diastrophic dysplasia, pseudoachondroplasia, hypochondroplasia, Noonan's syndrome, primordial dwarfism, Cockayne syndrome, Turner syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), and hypothyroidism. Severe shortness of breath with skeletal distortion also occurs with multiple mucopolysaccharidoses and other storage disorders. Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism can cause reasonable but transient dwarfism.

Serious chronic illnesses can cause dwarfism as a side effect. Harsh environmental conditions such as malnutrition can also lead to dwarfism. These types of dwarfism are indirect consequences of the general unhealthy or malnourished condition of the individual and not of a specific disease. The dwarfism often takes the form of a simple short stature with no deformities, resulting in reasonable dwarfism. In societies where poor nutrition is prevalent, the average size of the population can be reduced below its genetic potential through the lack of adequate nutrition. Sometimes there is no definitive cause for short stature.


Often times, dwarfism is diagnosed in childhood based on visible symptoms. A physical exam can usually be enough to diagnose certain types of dwarfism, but genetic testing and diagnostic imaging can be used to determine the exact condition. In a person's youth, height tracking growth charts can be used to diagnose subtle forms of dwarfism that have no other noticeable physical characteristics.

Short stature or stunted growth in youth is usually what brings the disease to medical treatment. Skeletal dysplasia is usually suspected because of obvious physical characteristics (e.g., unusual configuration of the face or shape of the skull), because of an obviously affected parent, or because body measurements show disproportion (arm length, lower segment ratio). Bone x-rays are often key to diagnosing a particular skeletal dysplasia, but they are not the only diagnostic tool. Most children with suspected skeletal dysplasia are referred to a genetics clinic for diagnostic confirmation and genetic counseling. Genetic testing for some of the specific disorders has been available since around 2000.

During an initial medical assessment of brevity, the absence of mismatches and other clues listed above usually suggest causes other than bone dysplasia.


In both men and women, the only requirement to be considered dwarf is an adult height under 147 cm (4 ft 10 in), and it is almost always underclassified in terms of the underlying condition that causes the short stature. Dwarfism is usually caused by a genetic variant; Achondroplasia is caused by a mutation on chromosome 4. When dwarfism is caused by a medical disorder, the person is referred to by the underlying diagnosed disorder. Disorders that cause dwarfism are often classified according to proportionality. Disproportionate dwarfism describes disorders that cause abnormal proportions of the body parts, while proportional dwarfism leads to a generally even shortening of the body.

Disorders that cause dwarfism can be classified by one of hundreds of names, which are usually permutations of the following roots:

  • location
    • rhizomelic = root, ie bone of the upper arm or thigh
    • mesomelic = middle, ie bones of the forearm or lower leg
    • acromelic = end, that is, bones of hands and feet.
    • micromelic = whole limbs are shortened
  • source
    • Chondro = cartilage
    • Osteo = of bone
    • Spondylo = the vertebra
    • Plasia = shape
    • Trophy = growth

Examples are achondroplasia and chondrodystrophy.


Many types of dwarfism cannot currently be prevented because they are genetic. Genetic conditions that cause dwarfism can be identified through genetic testing by looking for the specific variations that lead to the condition. However, due to the number of causes of dwarfism, it may be impossible to definitively determine whether a child will be born with dwarfism.

Dwarfism due to malnutrition or a hormonal abnormality can be treated with appropriate diet or hormone therapy. Growth hormone deficiency can be remedied by injecting human growth hormone (HGH) at a young age.


Genetic mutations in most forms of dwarfism caused by bone dysplasia cannot yet be changed. Therefore, therapeutic interventions are usually aimed at preventing or reducing pain or physical disability, increasing the height of adults or alleviating psychosocial stress and improving social adaptation.

Forms of dwarfism associated with the endocrine system can be treated with the use of hormone therapy. If the cause is pre-pubescent growth hormone hyposecretion, extra growth hormone can correct the abnormality. When the growth hormone receptor itself is affected, the condition can be more difficult to treat. Hypothyroidism is another possible cause of dwarfism that can be treated with hormone therapy. Injections of thyroid hormone can lessen the effects of the condition, but a lack of proportion can be permanent.

Pain and disability can be relieved through physical therapy, braces or other orthoses, or through surgery. The only simple measures that can increase the perceived height of adults are clothing improvements such as shoe lifts or hairstyles. Growth hormone is rarely used for shortness of breath caused by bone dysplasia because the height advantage is usually small (less than 5 cm) and the cost is high. The most effective means of increasing adult height by a few inches is distraction osteogenesis, although availability is limited and the cost in terms of money, discomfort, and life disturbance is high. Most people with dwarfism do not choose this option and it remains controversial. Surgical treatment is not possible for other types of dwarfism.

Society and culture


The appropriate term to describe a person of particularly short stature (or with the genetic disorder achondroplasia) has been historically ambiguous and has evolved euphemistically over the past few centuries.

The noun dwarf comes from the old English Dweorg and originally refers to a being from Germanic mythology - a dwarf - who lives in mountains and on earth and is associated with wisdom, blacksmithing, mining and handicrafts. The etymology of the word dwarf is controversial, and scientists have suggested various theories about the creature's origin, including the fact that dwarfs could have originated as nature spirits, or as creatures associated with death, or as a mixture of concepts. Competing etymologies include a foundation in the Indo-European root * dheur- (which means "damage"), the Indo-European root * dhreugh (whence the modern German dream "Dream" and Wore "Deception") and there have been comparisons with the ancient Indian Dhvaras (a kind of demonic being). The being may only have acquired associations with short stature at a later point in time.

The terms "dwarf", "short person", "LP" and "short person" are now generally considered acceptable by most of the people affected by these disorders. However, the plural "dwarfs" as opposed to "dwarfs" is generally preferred in the medical context, possibly because the plural "dwarfs" was popularized by the author JRR Tolkien and is a race of characters in his books " The Lord of the Rings "describes which resemble the Nordic dwarfs.

"Midget", the etymology of which refers to a "tiny biting insect", became famous in the mid-19th century after Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote it in her novels " Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands " and " Oldtown Folks "used in whom she described children and an extremely short man. respectively. Later on, some dwarfs considered the word offensive as it was the descriptive term for PT Barnum's dwarfs used for public entertainment during the freak show era. It is also not considered accurate as it is not a medical term or diagnosis, although it is sometimes used as a slang term to describe those who are particularly short, whether or not they are dwarfed.

Dwarf sport

Dwarfs are supported in sport by a number of national and international organizations.

The Dwarf Athletic Association of America and the Dwarf Sports Association UK offer dwarfs the opportunity to compete nationally and internationally in America and Europe, respectively.

The Dwarf Sports Association UK organizes between 5 and 20 events per month for athletes with restricted growing conditions in the UK.

For example, swimming and cycling are often recommended for people with skeletal dysplasia because these activities put minimal pressure on the spine.

Professional wrestling has had the participation of dwarf athletes since its inception. Midget Wrestling had its heyday in the 1950s-1970s when wrestlers like Little Beaver, Mr. Littlebrook and Fuzzy Amor toured North America and Sky Low Low was the first holder of the National Wrestling Alliance's World Midget Championship. In the decades that followed, more wrestlers became known in North America, including foreign wrestlers like Japan's Little Tokyo. Although the term is viewed as derogatory by some, many past and present dwarf wrestlers, including Hornswoggle, have stated that they are proud of the term because of its history in the industry and its marketability.

Art and media presentations

In art, literature, and movies, dwarfs are rarely depicted as ordinary people who are very small, but rather as a species. Novelists, artists and filmmakers can attach particular moral or aesthetic importance to their "apartheid" or deformity.

Artistic representations of dwarfism can be found on Greek vases and other ancient artifacts, including ancient Egyptian art, in which dwarfs were likely viewed as a divine manifestation, with records suggesting that they could attain high positions in society.

The Bhagavat Purana Hindu text devotes nine chapters to the adventures of Vamana, a dwarf avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Depictions of dwarfism can also be found in European paintings and many illustrations. Many European paintings (especially Spanish ones) from the 16th to 19th centuries show dwarfs alone or with others. The Talmud says that the second-born son of the Egyptian pharaoh of the Bible was a dwarf. Recent research suggests that the ancient Egyptians held dwarves in high esteem. Some important mythological figures of the North American Wyandot nation are depicted as dwarves.

As popular media spread, the number of works depicting dwarves has increased dramatically. Dwarfism is like in many books, films, and television series Willow , The wild wild west , The man with the golden pistol (and later in Austin Powers parodied), Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, The Wizard of Oz , Willy Wonka & pictured the chocolate factory , Bad Santa , a son of the circus , small people, big world , the little couple , a song of ice and fire (and its TV adaptation game of Thrones ), His field , the speaker , In Bruges , The Tin Drum by G√ľnter Grass, the short-lived reality show The Littlest Groom and the movies The station agent and zero .

In the Animal Planet TV series Pit boss the dwarf actor Shorty Rossi and his talent agency "Shortywood Productions" can be seen, with whose help Rossi finances his pit bull rescue operation "Shorty's Rescue". Rossi's three full-time employees featured on the series are all little people and aspiring actors.

In September 2014 Creative Business House founded the International Dwarf Fashion Show together with Donnons Leur Une Chance in order to raise the awareness and self-confidence of people of dwarf stature.

See also


External links

Search Wiktionary, the free dictionary Dwarfs .