Dysplasia is said to occur when there is a growth and proliferation of abnormal cells within the tissues and organs that are found in the body. Generally, the body is made up of cells.

Cells that are seen to have the same function come together to make up a tissue. Tissues of the same type of cells come together to form an organ, and many organs make up the general system of the body.

This is the usual thing that takes place within the human system. However, there can be a malformation of some individual cells causing them to become abnormal. Once these abnormal cells begin to grow within a particular tissue or organ, then dysplasia can be said to have occurred.

Dysplasia can affect either children or adults. When it occurs in children, it is known as developmental dysplasia. Developmental dysplasia is often a common disease among children, and it can affect any part of their body, including their bones, and other parts of their skeleton.

However, for adults, when there is an abnormal growth of cells, then it could mean a predisposition to another disease condition such as cancer. There are several kinds of dysplasia, and they all have their risk factors.

It is, however, considered impossible to prevent all forms of dysplasia, but it helps to understand the causes and avoid their risk factors.

Causes of dysplasia

The causes of dysplasia are yet to be understood or are said to be quite complicated. According to research, some types of dysplasia have been seen to occur as a result of genetic mutations.

Conditions such as skeletal dysplasia, as well as ectodermal dysplasia, have been seen to be a result of mutations that occurs in a developing fetus.

What should be on your mind is what causes the mutations? Well, that question has no answers for now, as the causes haven’t been understood. Dysplasia in adults has been seen to be as a result of the type of diet they take in.

Some doctors have shown that certain types of foods have been seen to cause an abnormal increase in cells. The reason for this also has not yet been seen.

Types of dysplasia

There are two basic types of dysplasia, and they include developmental dysplasia and adult dysplasia.

Developmental dysplasia

This refers to the kind of dysplasia that mostly affects infants and young children. It sometimes may be present before the child is born, and in other instances, it occurs after the birth of the child.

Three common types of developmental dysplasia can occur in children, and they include

1. Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia, which is also known as the developmental dysplasia of the hip, is said to occur when the bone is either in the wrong shape, or the hip socket is not present within the correct place where it is meant to be. Hence, it is unable to cover and support the femur, which is the leg bone.

Once this occurs, there will be increased friction around that area as the synovial fluid, which is meant to help reduce friction, is not present as a result of wrong positioning. Hence, this causes wear and tear around the hip.

According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the child will end up experiencing any of the following symptoms.

  • Legs with different lengths: This means that one limb will be longer than the other.
  • The presence of an unusual gait
  • A little amount of flexibility on one leg, especially the right limb.

Treatment of this kind of dysplasia may either be surgery or the use of a harness depending on the extent of the damage.

If the child is a newborn or an infant, the child can be made to wear a harness for up to 3-6months in order to keep the hip in its correct position, and often, this process has been recorded to be successful.

However, for times when the process didn’t work, your doctor may recommend something firmer such as braces, to help keep the hip in its correct place, and this also helps the hip to stabilize.

If the child’s hip bone is severely out of place, the doctor might need to do a bone realignment by gently placing the femur(thigh bone) in place first before using a body cast. This is mostly done for infants within the ages of 6months to 2years.

2. Skeletal Dysplasia

Skeletal dysplasia, which is also known as osteochondrodysplasia, refers to a group of several disorders that are often characterized by deformities of the cartilage and bone growth.

This, in turn as such causes the shape of the skeleton to be abnormally formed, the size of the skeleton to become disproportionate as well as causes the abnormal length of the long bones, the spine, and the head.

This genetic disorder often causes a disruption in the growth and development of the child’s skeletal system. Children who have skeletal dysplasia are often seen to have stunted growth in their hands and legs when compared to the body.

Research has shown that over 350 disorders are usually classified or are as a result of skeletal dysplasias. Often, diagnosis is made in-vitro i.e., when the child is still in the uterus or when during childbirth.

3. Ectodermal dysplasia

Ectodermal dysplasia is a condition or disorder that affects the skin, hair, sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and nails. As seen in skeletal dysplasia, ectodermal dysplasia is also a common type of disorder with over 150 varieties. This information is given by the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias.

Ectodermal dysplasia is a genetic condition that is often passed from one generation to another. For some, they may be visible at birth, and as such, treatment can start immediately.

However, for others, they may take years before they finally manifest, and when they do, it may take another amount of time before a proper diagnosis can be made. This is because of the different symptoms that come along with this disorder.

According to research, about 7,000 people worldwide have been seen to be diagnosed with this condition. Another cause of this disease asides it being hereditary is genetic mutations, which can be as a result of external sources such as constant exposure to UV rays.

This disease condition can affect any race. However, fair Caucasians have been seen to have the highest prevalence of this disease.

Patients who have Ectodermal dysplasia are often seen with abnormalities in the growth of their hair follicles. Their scalp and body may not have the right amount of hair on it as a result of slow growth. Also, their fingernails and toenails are abnormally thick, discolored, and brittle.

Their skin is often seen to be abnormally colored. Skin disorders such as the production of red coloration are commonly seen, and their sweat glands also may either be underdeveloped or developed but function unusually.

Adult dysplasia

When dysplasia occurs in adults, it is a different ball game. In children, it is seen as a disorder. However, for adults, when dysplasia occurs, it is often characterized by the abnormal growth of cells, which will, in turn, lead to tumors.

Dysplasia in adults can affect any kind of tissue in the body; however, some types are seen to reoccur often much more than others. A few common ones include:

1. Cervical Dysplasia

Cervical dysplasia, also known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, is said to occur when there are abnormal cells that are seen to have been developed on the surface of the neck of a woman’s uterus(cervical surface).

Cervical dysplasia often ranges from mild to severe, depending on the number of abnormal cells developed as well as the appearance of the cells.

Often, cervical dysplasia is regarded as a precancerous condition. It is said to be caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.

This disease condition is common in women who are under the age of 30; however, women at any age can also be prone to developing it.

Cervical dysplasia often doesn’t show any symptoms, and most women may have it and will not be aware of it. However, it is mostly discovered during a routine PAP exam.

Mild cervical dysplasia, also known as low-grade cervical cancer, has been seen to resolve itself without treatment. All that is needed is a careful clinical observation with a routine PAP exam every 3-6months.

However, for those who have moderate to severe cervical cancers, which are also referred to as high-grade cervical dysplasia, they definitely would require treatment, and some may end up persisting even up to 2years. Treatment is often needed to remove the abnormal cells.

Early detection of cervical dysplasia is essential. Those who have caught it early, treated it and received appropriate follow-up have been seen to have an excellent prognosis.

However, for women who are undiagnosed and receive no treatment, cervical dysplasia can indeed become cervical cancer.

There are certain risk factors that can place a woman at an increased risk of developing cervical dysplasia. These factors include

  • Early start of sexual activities: When a young lady indulges in sex while she is way too young, then she will become predisposed to cervical dysplasia
  • Untreated or persistent HPV virus: Untreated Human Papilloma Virus in women, which can be as a result of multiple sexual partners, having sex with a man who is uncircumcised, or having sex with a man who has multiple sexual partners can result in a woman developing cervical dysplasia.

2. Myelodysplastic Syndromes

This is a typical kind of dysplasia that occurs within the bone marrow. This kind of dysplasia causes the growth of abnormal cells within the bone marrow, and this will, in turn, cause the bone marrow to produce unhealthy blood cells.

Once there is an accumulation of these abnormal cells, it will lead to bone marrow disorders. In some cases, this kind of dysplasia has been seen to cause blood cancer, which is commonly known as leukemia.

According to the Myelodysplastic Syndrome Foundation, it mostly affects older adults, especially those within the ages of 65years and above. However, it can also affect people within the younger age bracket.

3. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia, although it is often seen in children, can also be a disorder that affects adults as well. However, according to research, adults who have hip dysplasia didn’t suddenly develop it; they may have had it since their childhood.

Hip Dysplasia has been seen to have the following risk factors;

  • Gender: Hip dysplasia has been seen to affect more women than men
  • Improper handling of infants
  • The baby being breech.

Symptoms of dysplasia

As seen above, dysplasia can affect any part of the body. The symptoms of dysplasia depends on the region or area of the body it affects.

1. For cervical dysplasia

Most times, cervical dysplasia often has no symptoms. The only signs the woman will experience are genital warts, and this is as a result of the Human Papilloma Virus(HPV).

However, the only way cervical dysplasia can be discovered is when the woman goes for a routine PAP test. It should be noted that cervical dysplasia is not cervical cancer. It is only when it goes undetected and untreated for a long time, then it can develop into cervical cancer.

2. For hip dysplasia

Those who have experienced hip dysplasia have often indicated that the only symptom they felt is severe hip pain. Hence, doctors have generally agreed that the first sign for hip dysplasia is severe pain in the hip region.

In addition to the pain felt at the hip, the patient may likely experience severe pain at the groin area, which can persist for months.

3. For Myelodysplastic syndrome

There are usually no symptoms. However, routine blood tests can show a reduced amount of red blood cells as well as a reduced amount of platelets and/or white blood cells.

4. For Ectodermal dysplasia

There are different ways that Ectodermal dysplasia affects the skin, the hair, the nails as well as the sweat glands. However, the most common symptoms include abnormal formation of the teeth, brittle skin, dry skin, which may sometimes appear scaly, as well as the formation of discolored toenails.

5. For skeletal dysplasia

The most common symptom of skeletal dysplasia is dwarfism. This includes the patient having short limbs with an unusually large head, short stature, slow growth, stiffness in the joints, crowded teeth as well as curved bones.


Treatment of dysplasia depends on the kind that causes the symptoms. Also, it should be noted that most treatments aim at reducing the symptoms while others are specific for the type of dysplasia.

1. For skeletal dysplasia

Most doctors prescribe the use of growth hormones, the use of braces to help reduce teeth crowding, back braces to help reduce the severity of the spine curvature, and corrective surgery.

2. For Ectodermal dysplasia

It is recommended that the patient should practice regular dental hygiene, and for their skin symptoms, they can use topical creams, which will help reduce the growth of these abnormal cells.

Also, the application of antibacterial soap and skin treatments, as well as the use of saline, sprays for their dry nose, and eye drops for their eyes, are highly recommended.

3. For Myelodysplastic syndrome

The only available treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome is a stem cell transplant. If this is not an option probably due to the monetary requirements or the lack of a donor, then other support treatments such as blood transfusions and blood cell growth factors can be used.

4. For Cervical Dysplasia

The majority of the treatments for cervical dysplasia are surgical based, and they include surgeries that require the use of a laser in order to destroy the abnormal cervical tissue.

Other surgical procedures include Cryocauterization, which involves the use of extremely cold temperatures to kill abnormal cells and loop electrosurgical excision (LEEP), which comprises the process by which the doctor uses a thin loop wire to scrape away abnormal cells that can visibly be seen.