Achondroplasia is the most common form of dwarfism. The term dwarfism can refer to anybody whose stature falls below the normal height ranges of the population, which in the UK means people who are shorter than 4ft 10in. DSS stands for disproportionate short stature and people with achondroplasia can be described as having DSS, as characteristics of the condition include shortened limbs, which are not proportionate to the main torso of the body. Other features can include bowed legs and back problems, such as curvature of the spine. Most people with DSS will be between 3ft 6in and 4ft 6in as adults. Having achondroplasia will inevitably affect day-to-day lifestyle, however it is unlikely to be as debilitating as some people may think.
Achondroplasia is caused by a genetic mutation that prevents bones and cartilage developing properly. It is often diagnosed at birth. Many people with achondroplasia are born to average height parents, although there is a possibility that the condition will pass on to children. There can be associated medical problems for people with DSS, therefore regular health check ups are advisable. Should someone with achondroplasia wish to be taller, leg-lengthening treatment can be undertaken, however this is a fairly risky and lengthy procedure that involves breaking bones.
People with restricted growth can instead fall into the PSS category, or proportionate short stature. Generally, people with PSS will grow very slowly, often due to problems with the pituitary gland. For females, restricted growth can be a characteristic of Turner Syndrome. For both adults and children with PSS, hormone treatment is often necessary if their full height is to exceed 5ft.
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