By Mayo Clinic Staff

Dwarfism is short stature that results from a genetic or medical condition. Dwarfism is generally defined as an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches (147 centimeters) or less. The average adult height among people with dwarfism is 4 feet (122 cm).

Many different medical conditions cause dwarfism. In general, the disorders are divided into two broad categories:

  • Disproportionate dwarfism. If body size is disproportionate, some parts of the body are small, and others are of average size or above-average size. Disorders causing disproportionate dwarfism inhibit the development of bones.
  • Proportionate dwarfism. A body is proportionately small if all parts of the body are small to the same degree and appear to be proportioned like a body of average stature. Medical conditions present at birth or appearing in early childhood limit overall growth and development.

Some people prefer the term "short stature" rather than "dwarf" or "dwarfism." So it's important to be sensitive to the preference of someone who has this disorder. Short stature disorders do not include familial short stature — short height that's considered a normal variation with normal bone development.

April 03, 2016