When Matthew Riddle III was born in Louisville, Kentucky, he weighed only one pound and two ounces, and he could fit in the palm of an adult’s hand. The doctors at the hospital had induced an early labor at 28 weeks after they noticed he wasn’t growing normally. Matthew then spent 98 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
When the doctors released Matthew from the NICU, they told his parents that he had microcephaly, a condition characterized by abnormal brain development. They also warned his parents he probably would not live very long.
Three months later, his parents received the results from an exome test, a type of DNA test, that provided a much more hopeful diagnosis. Matthew really has microcephalic osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type two (MOPDII), better known as primordial dwarfism.
As his mother, Jenevieve Cook told WLKY, “We were told Matthew would walk, he would talk, he would go to school, he would just be extraordinarily small.” At seven months, Matthew now weighs a little less than four pounds. By contrast, the average seven month old infant weighs around 17 or 18 pounds. Not surprisingly, many people mistake Matthew for a newborn or even ask if he is a preemie. Because of his tiny size, Matthew wears clothing made for dolls.
Primordial dwarfism is a rare condition characterized by short stature and skeletal abnormalities including an unusually small head. Despite the latter trait, a primordial dwarf usually has normal intelligence. Their growth problems are primordial, which means they begin before the patient is even born. People with primordial dwarfism continue to grow at an abnormally slow rate and eventually reach an adult height of 20 to 40 inches. The average white man in the United States stands 70 inches or 5’10”.
Many people with primordial dwarfism also have abnormalities affecting the blood vessels. Matthew, for example, has a condition called moyamoya, which is a progressive disorder caused by blocked arteries at the base of the brain. It can cause aneurysms and strokes. Matthew is currently in a California hospital undergoing the necessary surgery to prevent such potentially deadly outcomes.
His family has established a GoFundMe page for Matthew. Since October is Dwarfism Awareness Month, they have been informing people of his condition.