Medical Mystery: The Smallest People in the World

Kristin is a primordial dwarf. She from a rare disease that retards her growth.

ByABC News
October 13, 2008, 8:10 AM

Jan. 8, 2007 — -- Although Kenadie Jourdin-Bromley is 3½ years old, she is only 27 inches tall and weighs about 10 pounds, the same as a 1-month-old infant.

Kenadie is a primordial dwarf.

"They are the smallest children in the world, and it is a big mystery as to why they are so small. We just don't know," said Dr. Charles Scott, one of the world's experts on the condition.

Scott is the co-director of the Skeletal Dysplasia Program at Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children. He estimates that Kenadie's condition, primordial dwarfism, is so rare that there are only about 125 people like her in the United States and Canada.

Primordials, unlike other dwarfs, have what are considered normal proportions, but their growth is retarded almost from the moment of conception. In fact, the name of the condition comes from one of the definitions of the word primorial -- "from the moment of conception."

Kenadie weighed only 2½ pounds when she was born. Her hand was as big as a quarter, and her foot was only an inch and a half long.

"I just want to hear her cry. If she cries," Kenadie's mother, Brianne Jourdin-Bromley, said she remembered thinking. "Then she's alive. And then we just heard this tiny, tiny little meow."

Kenadie was so small that nurses called her "Thumbelina." Doctors who had never seen a child as small as she was warned that the prognosis was not good.

"They really believed that she could not live," Brianne said. "And then you go back to her and you'd think, 'Well, how can she not be OK? She's so perfect.'"

Thinking back to Kenadie's birth, her proud father, Court Bromley, said, "I have never seen something so incredible and so perfectly formed."

Little did Brianne and Court know that they both carried a defective gene that gave them a one in four chance of having a child like Kenadie.

"The only way they're identified is after they've had one child," Scott said. "There's nothing we know that causes that mutation. Nothing that you can do to fix it or change it. It's purely chance."