Little People

I apologize in advance if this question has been asked and answered somewhere before, and I aplolgize, too, if my terminology is not what is currently considered politically correct; I can never keep up with these things. But…

At what point in an infant’s development does it become obvious that the child is a “Little Person”? (Meaning, of course, a Dwarf; not a small child)

Is this something that is apparent at birth, or very early in the child’s life, or is this something that “sneaks up” on the unsuspecting docs and parents?

“A slightly altered view of the world…”
Chrome Toaster

According to the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man:

So achondroplastic dwarfs can be diagnosed before birth. The clinical signs are also clear at birth, including the elongated torso and the distinctive skull shape.

Thank you for your response. I have had 4 people in the past 2 weeks ask me if my child is a “Little Person” (that sort). I myself am barely 5’, so I don’t imagine that she will be 7’. She is tiny, but her proportions do not seem to be like those of a Dwarf.

I assumed that the doc would have mentioned something by now if the condition existed.
These somewhat tactless, curious people were starting to make me wonder, though.
Thanks again.

“A slightly altered view of the world…”
Chrome Toaster

I have read in the past that you can classify “little people” into two categories:

a) Those who have body proportions similar to an average adult.
b) Those who have a disproportionately (large) sized torso, and short arms and legs.

Is that correct? If so, DrF, I imagine from your post that the “achondroplastic dwarfs” are the latter. How soon can you tell if a person will be a “type a” short person?

P.S. ChromeToaster, my fiancee is also 5 feet tall. I imagine we might get some of those questions ourselves when we have children!

Quand les talons claquent, l’esprit se vide.
Maréchal Lyautey

You’ve got to be strong here and say something like, “Oh, how sweet of you to say so!” That might be enough to make a thoughtless person pause for a few seconds.

You know you have been to the Peds often enough for a blind doctor to notice - people used to say this sort of thing about my perfectly normal brother and I’d say something like, “Oh, how can you tell, does it run in your family?” When and if they did reply in the negative, I just say, “Mine neither.”

If they were very obnoxious and very loud I’d say that he was going to die in three years but we were trying to keep it from him.

Naturally, my mother didn’t take me out shopping as often as she did some of the others for which I was very thankful.

Oh, I’m gonna keep using these #%@&* codes 'til I get 'em right.

*Chrome Toaster: Thank you for your response. I have had 4 people in the past 2 weeks ask me if my child is a “Little Person” (that sort). I myself am barely 5’, so I don’t imagine that she will be 7’. She is tiny, but her proportions do not seem to be like those of a Dwarf. *

My response would be, “No, that’s an optical illusion. She’s actually 7’ tall.” :slight_smile:

A general rule-of-thumb to determine a child’s adult height: double their height at age 3.


Yes, but pituitary dwarfism is easily treated with hormone replacement therapy. If the child is abnormally small for his/her age, the physician can be asked to check pituitary gland function to see if human growth hormone is being produced in proper levels.

Chrome Toaster’s pediatrician is, I presume, familiar with the child and has not yet felt that the child’s growth is unusual.

Not that it really matters, people come in all different sizes.

The last I read, a DWARF is one who had disproportionate body parts, like legs and arms and 99% require several operations in their life times, especially during the growing stages, to keep their arm and leg joints free from muscle over growth.

A MIDGET is a little person who is normally proportioned and remains looking like a child.

It is worth noting that thier are literarly dozens of genetic disorders that can cause dwarfism, with achondroplastic dwarfs, I believe, the most commen. Dwarfism is a symptom, not a disorder in itself. I suspect that growth patterns and such vary by disorder, but I wouldn’t worry about your daughter unless your pediatrician feels there is a problem, but go ahead and talk to him about it; it won’t hurt and it will make you feel better.

As for rude people, I suggest you say with a perfectly straight face and cheerful, vally-girlesque voice “Oh, I didn’t know any better so I feed her nothing but coffee–she loves coffee–the first year, and it stunted her growth” Then take a picture very very quickly, because the look on their faces will be priceless. I bet 50% of them believe you.

The doc suggests that she is on the low end of the birth chart, but that’s it. I failed to mention that my husband is 5’4, so we are a family of small people, but not Dwarfs, and I imagine it is on the low end of the birth chart she will stay.

She is the most beautiful creature I have ever had the privelige to know, though, whether she grows to be 5’7 or 3’2.

There have been some good responses for the callous. Thanks!!

“A slightly altered view of the world…”
Chrome Toaster

How does it become clear that they are dwarves? When they grow a beard and exhibit a fondness for mines and battle-axes.

Oh. DWARFS. Sorry.

May I make a suggestion? Don’t put up a growth chart on the wall where you regularly mark her height. Don’t in any other way imply that gaining height is a crucial step in her becoming an adult, like being toilet-trained or learning her alphabet. I don’t even see any reason for you to regularly measure her height. A doctor can do that if he thinks it is important.

If she’s merely short because her parents are short, she’s going to get enough hassling from other people. You don’t need to add to it. I’m 4’11" (my father is 5’5" and my mother is 4’10") and I know about how cruel people can be. My parents never much cared how tall I was, since we were all short, but I got plenty of grief from other people.

If you wonder if it’s a medical condition, you can mention it when you go to the pediatrian for regular check-ups if he thinks that she’s growing normally, but otherwise it’s nothing for you or anyone else to be concerned about. If people ask about how short she is, you might say, “Yeah, just like her parents.”