Introduction 

Restricted growth, sometimes known as dwarfism, is a condition characterised by short stature.

There are two main types of restricted growth:

  • proportionate short stature (PSS) – a general lack of growth, where the length of the trunk and limbs are in proportion
  • disproportionate short stature (DSS) – where the limbs are shorter or out of proportion with other parts of the body

As well as having short stature, some people with restricted growth also have other physical problems, such as bowed legs or an unusually curved spine.

However, most people don't have any other serious problems. They can often live a relatively normal life and have a normal life expectancy.

Read more about the symptoms of restricted growth.

What causes restricted growth?

The most common cause of PSS is being born to small parents, but it can sometimes occur as a result of the body not producing enough growth hormone.

Certain genetic syndromes, such as Turner syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome, can also cause PSS.

DSS usually occurs as part of a genetic condition, such as achondroplasia. Many children born with DSS have parents of average height and the faulty gene causing the condition occurred by chance.

If your child is diagnosed with restricted growth, tests will be carried out to try to identify the underlying cause.

Read more about the causes of restricted growth and diagnosing restricted growth.

Managing restricted growth

Treatments recommended for people with restricted growth depend on the cause of the condition and any associated problems they have. A number of different healthcare professionals will usually be involved in your care.

Some people with restricted growth may benefit from treatment with growth hormone injections, which can help a child with restricted growth grow more than they otherwise would.

In cases of DSS where the legs are particularly short, a leg-lengthening procedure is sometimes used, although this is controversial and there is uncertainty about its safety and effectiveness.

Read more about treatments for restricted growth.




Page last reviewed: 05/03/2015

Next review due: 05/03/2017