Mostly, people are of normal height, but sometimes we come across people who are exceptionally tall or short. Persons who are exceptionally short are called dwarfs. You must have seen dwarfs in circuses, dressed as clowns to entertain you. Do you know why some people lack normal height? The growth of a person depends on many factors. Heredity plays an important role in determining the height of a man or a woman. Children of tall parents are generally tall, while those who have dwarf parents are generally dwarfs. In Africa, some tribes such as the Watusi and the Masai; males of the latter tribe average about 190 centimetres, or 6 feet 3 inches. Men who are about 200 centimetres tall are not uncommon. At the same time, there are pygmy tribes such as the Mbutsi from Zaire, where average height is 137 centimetres (4 feet 6 inches) for men and 135 centimetres (4 feet 5 inches) for women. The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert in Africa are rarely over five feet in height. These variations are solely due to evolutionary reasons, passed on by heredity. Disease is also a reason for causing dwarfness. There are cases of dwarfs where the head and trunk are normal in size, but arms and legs are short. This is caused by a disease of the cartilage. A normal body skeleton increases in length during childhood and adolescence because cartilage changes into bone at the growing ends of the bones. Disease of the cartilage prevents the arms and legs from growing to a normal size. The insufficient secretion of hormones by the pituitary gland often causes dwarfism. The underactive pituitary gland during childhood does not allow the body to grow normally. Injecting the required hormones can treat this type of dwarfism. Too much or too little growth is also determined by some disorder in adrenal, pituitary, thyroid and male and female sex glands (testes and ovaries). The growth retardation may also be due to inadequate nutrition and intake of vitamins. Returning to an adequate diet, and regular intake of vitamins and minerals may also cause the child’s growth to spurt. Did you know that a dwarf named Jeffery Hudson, who was only eighteen inches tall served as a captain of cavalry in the British Army? He lived from 1619 to 1692.
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