With recent medical advances, as well as TV and the Internet, people are more aware of dwarfism today than ever before. However, it is certainly not a new condition, and there are even ancient Egyptian records in which it is recognized – albeit as something tied to the supernatural!
With the benefit of modern science, we now know that many sufferers have bone disorders, like osteogenesis imperfecta, which prevent them from reaching full adult size. Others have hormone deficiencies that delay or prevent their growth. And some cases are still unexplained. In total, there are around 200 medical conditions that can cause dwarfism.
Many of those people with dwarfism or related diseases have serious mobility issues, brittle bones, and other associated conditions that can seriously impair their ability to live normal lives. Read on for more on the 10 shortest living people in the world.
10. Stacey Herald – 28 inches
First on our list is world’s smallest mother, Stacey Herald, who is 28 inches tall. Herald suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, which has left her with underdeveloped lungs and brittle bones. She uses a wheelchair for mobility.
The Kentucky resident married 5 ft 9 in trainee vicar Wil Herald in 2005. The couple were advised that it was potentially dangerous for them to have children because the weight of the baby could crush Stacey’s internal organs. However, they decided to take the risk.
Between 2005 and 2009, Stacey Herald gave birth to three babies, the last of which was delivered by a rare vertical caesarean procedure. Two of her children have inherited her condition, and she often struggles to manage her other daughter, who is already bigger than she is.
In a 2009 interview, she said: “We listen to doctors and respect them, but they don’t always get it right, so we end up doing what we feel is best.”
9. Hatice Kocaman – 28 inches
Like previous entry Stacey Herald, Hatice Kocaman is only 28 inches tall. Kocaman is in her early twenties and lives in Kadirli, Turkey. Previously, she held the Guinness record for the smallest mobile woman in the world.
The tiny Turk’s size is believed to be the result of a genetic bone condition – and she also suffers from hip dysplasia and back problems. Doctors suspect that Kocaman inherited the disorder from both of her parents. She is unable to work but helps her mother by performing small jobs around the house.
In a 2010 interview, Kocaman said: “It was hard when I was a child because all my classmates used to tease me for being small. But now I am famous because of my size. So it makes me feel like I am much taller.”
8. Edward Niño Hernández – 27 inches
At just 27 inches tall, Edward Niño Hernández is the smallest man in Colombia. Born in 1986, the former Guinness World Record holder has reportedly not grown since he was two years old and was just 15 inches long when he was born.
The Bogotá resident also suffers from cataracts that impair his vision and finds it hard to write because of his stubby fingers. Hernández had to repeat several years of school and eventually dropped out when he was 13. The reason for his small stature has never been diagnosed.
Hernández works part time as a dancer in Bogotá. When interviewed in 2010, he revealed that he had an 18-year-old girlfriend and that he enjoyed playing checkers and dominoes.
7. Bridgette Jordan – 27 inches
Bridgette Jordan is one of the world’s smallest women and is also the world’s shortest cheerleader. Born in 1989, 27-inch-tall Jordan is also a former Guinness World Record holder.
Jordan’s short stature is the result of Majewski osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type II, a rare form of primordial dwarfism that affects one in every three million people. However, although the condition is associated with brain and skeletal abnormalities, Illinois-born Jordan is still mobile enough to enjoy her cheerleading and dancing.
Jordan is a student at Kaskaskia College in Illinois. And along with her brother Brad, who is 38 inches tall, she is also one half of the smallest pair of siblings in the world. Jordan is interested in fashion and says that she is thinking about starting a business designing clothes for little people.
6. Lin Yü-chih – 26.6 inches
With a height of only 26.6 inches, Lin Yü-chih is another former shortest man in the world. Born in 1972, Yü-chih has brittle bones and is confined to a wheelchair as a result of his condition.
The Taiwan local suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, which has limited his bone growth and stature to that of a toddler. However, he did not know that he suffered from the condition until he attended a conference while in his twenties.
Lin Yü-chih currently works as an author and social activist in Taipei.
5. Khagendra Thapa Magar – 26 inches
The world’s third shortest man is Khagendra Thapa Magar from Nepal. Magar is just 26 inches tall and suffers from primordial dwarfism. A businessman discovered him in the Baglung district of Nepal in 2006.
Known as the “Little Buddha,” Magar was declared the shortest man in the world on October 14, 2010. However, on June 12, 2011, he lost the crown to Junrey Balawing. Magar used to be part of a dancing troupe in Nepal and India and now promotes tourism as a goodwill ambassador for the region.
According to his doctor, Magar has the body of a three-year-old and thinks and behaves like one as well. The Nepalese man suffers from learning difficulties and enrolled at a local nursery school in 2009 to learn how to read and write.
4. Madge Bester – 25.5 inches
Born in 1963, Madge Bester is one of the shortest women ever recorded. The South African is only 25.5 inches tall, which makes her smaller than an average one-year-old. She currently holds the record for the smallest non-mobile woman in the world.
Bester suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta and is confined to a wheelchair. In 1998, this campaigner for disabled rights met then shortest man in the world, Lin Yu-Chih, at a conference for the disabled in Taiwan. At the meeting, Bester said: “My message to you is to take charge of your life. Forget your disabilities and use your abilities.”
3. Jyoti Amge – 24.7 inches
Jyoti Amge, the world’s smallest mobile woman, is 24.7 inches tall and weighs less than a stone. Amge was born in 1993 in Nagpur, India and suffers from a condition called achondroplasia, which froze her growth soon after her first birthday.
Amge suffers from brittle bones and needs constant care from her parents and friends. She dreams of becoming a Hollywood actress and appeared in the Bollywood movie Pan Supari in 2012. She also recently enrolled at Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University.
“I would like to be an actress in Hollywood and win an Oscar. The only difference is my height,” says Amge.
2. Junrey Balawing – 23.6 inches
Born in 1993, Filipino teenager Junrey Balawing is the world’s second shortest man. He was declared the shortest man in the world on his eighteenth birthday in 2011, but he lost the title to Chandra Bahadur Dangi a year later.
Reportedly, Balawing has not grown since a few months after his birth. He is 23.6 inches tall and weighs only 11 pounds. He also has trouble walking due to his weak knees and needs to hold onto something in order to stand up straight. Balawing’s condition has never been diagnosed, but he is suspected to have an endocrine- or birth-related defect.
Whatever Balawing’s condition might be, it means he needs constant attention from his parents. Despite his mobility problems, however, he is still able to help his family by performing domestic tasks like feeding their chickens.
1. Chandra Bahadur Dangi – 21.5 inches
With a height of just 21.5 inches, Chandra Bahadur Dangi is the shortest person ever recorded. Born in November 1939, Dangi suffers from primordial dwarfism. His condition caused his stature to remain abnormally small, but as is not the case with other forms of dwarfism, the effects left his limbs and organs proportionate to the rest of his body.
Dangi lives in a remote village in Nepal and had never been examined by a doctor or treated for his condition prior to claiming the world’s shortest person title in 2012. When doctors at the Guinness Book of Records clinic finally checked him, he was found to have no immediate health problems.
Chandra is unusually fit, given that most sufferers of his form of dwarfism suffer health problems. He says that he did not stake a claim to the Guinness title for most of his life because he and his family are uneducated and were unaware that such a record even existed.