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Psychogenic dwarfism

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Psychogenic dwarfism, Psychosocial dwarfism or Stress dwarfism is a growth disorder that is observed between the ages of 2 and 15, caused by extreme emotional deprivation or stress. The symptoms include decreased growth hormone (GH) secretion, very short stature, weight that is inappropriate for the height, and immature skeletal age. This disease is a progressive one, and as long as the child is left in the stressing environment, his or her cognitive and linear abilities continue to degenerate. It is often seen in feral children and in children kept in abusive, confined conditions for extended lengths of time. It can cause the body to completely stop growing but is generally considered to be temporary; regular growth will resume when the source of stress is removed.

Children with psychogenic dwarfism have extremely low levels of growth hormone. These children possibly have a problem with growth hormone inhibiting hormone (GHIH) or growth-hormone releasing hormone (GHRH). The children could either be unresponsive to these hormones or too sensitive.

Children that have psychogenic dwarfism exhibit signs of failure to thrive. Even though they appear to be receiving adequate nutrition, they do not grow and develop normally compared to other children of their age.

An environment of constant and extreme stress causes psychogenic dwarfism. Stress releases hormones in the body such as such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, engaging what is known as the 'fight or flight' response. The heart speeds up and the body diverts resources away from processes that are not immediately important; in psychogenic dwarfism, the production of growth hormone (GH) is thusly affected. As well as lacking growth hormone, children with psychogenic dwarfism exhibit gastrointestinal problems due to the large amounts of epinephrine and norepinephrine, resulting in their bodies lacking proper digestion of nutrients and further affecting development.

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