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He might be small but he's full of beans: Mother praises son, 5, who doesn't let dwarfism hold him back

3.7 from 3 votes
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

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Callum Woodford is often mistaken for being his two-year-old sister's twin - but the little boy is actually five and already attending school.

The youngster has a rare form of dwarfism, which means his friends tower over his 90cm frame in class. He has a specially-made uniform designed for his tiny frame and an extra small bed.

But despite needing extra help around the home and being too small to ride a bicycle, his mother Avril, 32, said that he didn't let his condition hold him back.

The childminder said: 'He's a cracking little man and what he lacks in size he certainly makes up in personality. He's still very slight, but he's full of beans.'

Callum suffers from an extremely rare form of primordial dwarfism called Russell- Silver syndrome which first became apparent when he failed to grow quickly enough in the womb.

However, it wasn' t until he was four that doctors made their diagnosis as the condition is so rare it is thought to affect as little as one in 100,000 newborns.

Mrs Woodford said: 'He was diagnosed last year before he started school. We had a paediatric appointment and it was noticed that he wasn' t growing and he was really lacking in confidence because of it.'

Callum had been delivered by Caesarean section seven weeks early after doctors discovered he had completely stopped growing in the womb.

Weighing just 2lbs and 3oz he spent the first month of his life in a hospital incubator, struggling to gain enough weight to go home.

Eventually, Avril and her husband Steve, 33, convinced doctors to let him out of hospital, although their fears for his health remained.

Avril said: 'Initially, doctors were worried that he might have Down's syndrome or long term feeding problems, but we didn' t really worried about that too much as we were just happy to have a baby and one that was finally out of hospital.

'And as it turned out, the tests showed that he was fine.'

However, while his little sister Maisie continues to grow every day, little Callum's growth in his early years was markedly slow.

Petite Avril convinced herself that it was down to her genes, but it soon became apparent that something else was to blame for Callum's small stature.

She said: 'Long term, Russell-Silver syndrome is one of the only primordial dwarfisms that is actually treatable with growth hormone but we are still waiting to receive it a year and a half after his diagnosis.

'It won't change his overall height but might help him to catch up a little bit and help him with his weight gain and things.

'Growth hormone costs about £60,000 - it's a very expensive treatment and you have to qualify to receive it under the right circumstances. Ironically, now that he has a diagnosis, he qualifies even less.

'He still struggles to put on weight and he has to eat about 1,500 calories a day as well as a special medicated milk. He weights about 10 kilos less that Maisie, but they are both about 90cms in height.

'When he was eventually diagnosed, we were told at the time that we would get a lot of support, but we haven't actually had all that much.'

Callum's family are careful not to be too over-protective of him and want him to experience life like any other child his age.

However, they say the hurtful comments people often make about his size has a deep impact on his confidence.

Avril said: 'The other week we were stood outside his school and he was wearing his uniform when someone came up and said, "You can't be old enough to go to school, you are too small" - and that was a adult.

'You wouldn't go up to a child in a wheelchair or an obese child and say, "Oh, what's wrong with you" but for some reason people can' t help pointing out his size to him.

'A lot of people mistake Callum and Maisie for twins and when anyone asks his age or other specifics he gets a little bit miffed as he knows what is coming. But he is learning to deal it.'

She added: 'It's taken us about a year to get used to it and it's been a constant struggle to make sure he gets the most out of everything, but on the whole Steve and I are very positive about things.

'There is the odd time when you are trying to buy the school uniforms and nothing fits and you just wish he could have the same as everybody else and do the same things as everybody else.

'Sometimes I wonder why it can't be me instead of him, but I think that's true for any parent really because you always want to wrap your children up in cotton wool - no matter what size they are.'

The prognosis for Russell-Silver syndrome Is good with growth features becoming less obvious as the patient ages. They also have a normal life expectancy.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Source: Daily Mail
3.7 from 3 votes
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