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Achondroplasia dwarfism (pronounced /əˌkɒndrɵˈpleɪziə/) occurs as a sporadic mutation in approximately 85% of cases (associated with advanced paternal age) or may be inherited in an autosomal dominant genetic disorder that is a common cause of dwarfism. Achondroplastic dwarfs have short stature, with an average adult height of 131 cm (4 feet, 3½ inches) for males and 123 cm (4 feet, ½ inch) for females.

The prevalence is approximately 1 in 25,000.[1]



Dwarfism is a result of autosomal dominant mutation in the fibroblast growth factor receptor gene 3 (FGFR3), which causes an abnormality of cartilage formation. In normal circumstances, FGFR3 has a negative regulatory effect on bone growth. In achondroplasia, the mutated form of the receptor is constitutively active and this leads to severely shortened bones.

People with achondroplasia have one normal copy of the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 gene and one mutant copy. Two copies of the mutant gene are invariably fatal before or shortly after birth. Only one copy of the gene has to be present for the disorder to occur. Therefore, a person with achondroplasia has a 50% chance of passing on the gene to his or her offspring, meaning that there will be a 50% chance that each child will have achondroplasia. Since it is fatal to have two copies (homozygous), if two people with achondroplasia have a child, there is a 25% chance of the child dying shortly after birth, a 50% chance the child will have achondroplasia, and a 25% chance the child will have an average phenotype. People with achondroplasia can be born to parents that do not have the condition. This is the result of a new mutation.[2]

New gene mutations leading to achondroplasia are associated with increasing paternal age[3] (over 35 years old). Studies have demonstrated that new gene mutations for achondroplasia are exclusively inherited from the father and occur during spermatogenesis; it is theorized that oogenesis has some regulatory mechanism that hinders the mutation from originally occurring in females (although females are still readily able to inherit and pass on the mutant allele). More than 99% of achondroplasia is caused by two different mutations in the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3). In about 98% of cases, a G to A point mutation at nucleotide 1138 of the FGFR3 gene causes a glycine to arginine substitution (Bellus et al. 1995, Shiang et al. 1994, Rousseau et al. 1996). About 1% of cases are caused by a G to C point mutation at nucleotide 1138.

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