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What Is Pituitary Dwarfism: Causes And Effects

Updated on September 22, 2016

What is Pituitary dwarfism?

Pituitary dwarfism is a rare medical condition that affects somewhere between 1 in 14,000 and 1 in 27,000 babies on a yearly basis. It has also been found that this medical condition affects men more than women. Since the various parts of the body grow slowly, persons affected by this medical condition rarely grow above 4 feet.

Pituitary Dwarfism Defined

When the pituitary gland is unable to produce sufficient growth hormones required for normal growth, pituitary dwarfism results as a condition of this deficiency. The hormone required for normal growth is Somatotropin, and essential it's in helping to stimulate the production of cells in the body.

This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland which is located just below the brain. The pituitary gland is divided into two sections, each with its own function. The two sections of the pituitary gland are the anterior and posterior (front and back). These two sections are responsible for producing various hormones to assist with our development. The anterior is responsible for producing several hormones including growth hormone.

When the pituitary gland malfunctions then hormones produced becomes insufficient.


Symptoms of Pituitary Dwarfism

Abnormal growth rate

This is one of the common symptoms of Pituitary dwarfism in most of the children in various parts of the world. Children who are affected by this medical condition usually grow at 20 to 25 % lower rate than that of normal children of the same age. This symptom is usually detected when the child is about 2 to 4 years old.

Uneven distribution of fat

Is there uneven distribution of fat in some of the vital parts of your child’s body? Then this is also one of the major symptoms that he is suffering from dwarfism due insufficient production of growth hormone. Some of the body parts in which there is abnormal deposit of fat are waist, abdomen, thighs and in various mammary glands.

Abnormal growth of brain

With this condition, your child’s brain development may occur slower than normal, showing signs of immaturity even in adulthood. However, they will show signs of adequate intelligence.

Cognitive skills may also reflect this abnormal brain growth and may cause impaired learning patterns.

Abnormal growth of limbs and head

Are the limbs and head of your child not growing in a proportionate manner with respect various other parts of the body? Pituitary dwarfism may cause the impaired growth of your child’s head, arms and legs. If you suspect that your child is growing at a slower rate than normal or their limbs seem abnormal, immediately check with your doctor. Your child may be suffering from dwarfism due inadequate production of growth hormone.

Wrinkles and fine lines on the face

This is also one of the effective ways by which you will be able to analyze whether your child is suffering from dwarfism. Wrinkle and fine lines on the face will make your child appear to be old at such a young age. His feet and hands will appear to be smaller than other parts of the body as well. Examine your child carefully and if you are unsatisfied with what you see, consult a physician immediately.

Shorter than normal

When your child reaches puberty, they seem to produce extra hormones that will:

  • Accelerate growth
  • Grow extra hair
  • Change the tone of their voice
  • Cause them to act differently

If after puberty you notice that your child is still at a height similar to a toddler or younger child, check with your physician. This undergrowth of you tween or adolescent may be as a result of inadequate supply of his/her growth hormone.

At this point your physician is the best person to be able to tell you whether or not your child has dwarfism and will be able to guide you on how to deal with this. You child will need to understand their condition and as well as the family, in order to start therapy/treatment, if needed.


Who is most affected by this medical condition?

Deficiency of growth hormone can affect both children and adults. Depending on your development, the inability to produce adequate amount of growth hormone may result in various adverse effects to the body.

1. Effect on children

Since growth hormone is extremely vital for normal growth, inadequate production of this hormone will result in abnormal height of your child compared to other children of same age. Besides delay in puberty, there will also be abnormal growth of the brain due to this medical condition of dwarfism.

2. Effect on adults

Adults also need adequate quantity of growth hormone throughout their life. It helps in maintaining the bones, tissues and fat in the body. Inefficient production of growth hormone by the pituitary gland will result in poor bone density, loss of memory, depression, fatigue and low muscle mass.

Who is at most risk for pituitary dwarfism?

In a study conduction over a three and a half year period showed that it is more likely for you to have this condition if a parent or fore parent had it. It was discovered that this kind of dwarfism is genetic and can be passed down from generation to generation due to the inability of the pituitary gland to produce required quantity of growth hormone.

Prevention and treatment

Since pituitary dwarfism is not a disease, but rather a condition that can only be diagnosed after birth, it cannot be prevented. However there are treatments that can help to slow and even stop the slow growth rate.

With the development in the field of science and technology, Pituitary dwarfism can now be treated without difficulty. Some of the major ways by which you will be able to treat this abnormal medical condition are.-

1. Hormone replacement therapy

It is one of the unique ways to help slow the dwarfism. The specific type of hormone required for the body depends upon the nature of the specific deficiency.

2. Human growth hormone replacement therapy

This is also one of the vital ways to treat dwarfism that has affected adolescent and children. It helps to retain normal growth of the body according to age. Adults are also recommended to undergo the HGH replacement therapy in order to maintain proper metabolism in the body.

3. Surgery or radiation therapy

If a child has been affected by dwarfism due to a tumor in specific part of the body then a doctor may advice you to get the radiation therapy or have surgery done.

Before starting any treatment, you must consult your doctor to avail the best treatment for your child. Do not buy over the counter growth hormones as this may result in sever after effects and may even cause death.



Awareness about this medical condition is extremely important in order to let people know that adequate treatment is available.

There must be education on the matter to prevent abuse and bullying of kids with this condition. The more people know about dwarfism, the less likely they are to tease somebody about it.

By conducting awareness programs, people will also be able to gain adequate knowledge about the symptoms that leads to Pituitary dwarfism. This will urge them to consult a specialist and get the best treatment that will help the child to live as normal as possible. Help your child deal with dwarfism and help him face the various challenges in the world in a bold and smart manner.

Be aware.


This article is intended for educational purposes only and not to be replaced with professional advice and treatment from your doctor. Always seek medical advice before starting any treatment.


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    • Cardisa profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolee Samuda 

      5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Blossom, I think so too. Many children are now having hormone replacement therapy and or surgery to overcome this condition. Thanks for stopping by.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Thank you for an interesting and informative article. We do not see so many people affected with this disease as was the case when I was a child. This is probably because parents are now more aware and can take action to obtain treatment.

    • Cardisa profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolee Samuda 

      5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Ruby, long time no see. Have been busy with work and haven't been here much.thanks for reading and commenting as usual.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Interesting article Cardisa. So many things can go wrong with the human body. Educational and well researched. Voted up. Thank you....


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