American girl who stayed a tot dies at age 20

October 30, 2013

An American girl who was born with an extremely rare condition that kept her a toddler for life has died at the age of 20, her father told AFP Wednesday.

Brooke Greenberg, whose rare condition was sometimes called syndrome X, raised scientists' hope of unlocking the secret to aging.

She died last week of a lung illness, Howard Greenberg said in a phone interview.

"We are going to remember her every day. She was a very, very, very special child," he said.

Brooke, who lived in Maryland with her parents and three sisters, stayed about the size of a two-year-old for life.

Only her hair and nails grew, according to an ABC news report that covered the family's story in 2009.

She had the mental capacity of a one year old and weighed about 15 pounds (seven kilograms).

She underwent a series of medical emergencies in her early years, including , an apparent stroke, and an unexplained lethargy that caused her to sleep for two weeks.

She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and her family began preparing for her funeral, but then she suddenly opened her eyes and doctors could no longer find any tumor.

At age 16, she still had some baby teeth. She rode in an infant car seat and was often pushed around in a stroller during family shopping trips.

Brooke was unable to speak but communicated her wants and needs through vocalization and mannerisms, and her sisters said in the ABC news report that she sometimes rebelled the way a teenager would.

One of her physicians, Richard Walker, told ABC that he had seen minimal changes in Brooke's brain over time.

If scientists could decipher a genetic mutation that made Brooke the way she was, perhaps it could be tested in lab animals to help unlock the secrets of aging and mortality, Walker said.

Greenberg said his family was never aware of other children who had the same condition as their daughter.

"We have been told that she was one of 6.7 billion people," he told AFP. "She was a unique individual."

Explore further: Roma Maria's blond hair, pale skin explained by albino gene

Related Stories

CDC frees up drug that fights brain-eating amoeba

August 22, 2013

(HealthDay)—Miltefosine, a potentially life-saving experimental drug to treat people infected with a rare but deadly brain-eating amoeba, is now available to U.S. doctors directly from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control ...

Huge tumor removed from pregnant Bolivian woman

March 22, 2012

Bolivian doctors said Thursday they have successfully removed a 15-kilogram (33-pound) tumor from a woman in her 35th week of pregnancy who has since given birth to a healthy baby girl.

Indian medics reconstruct baby's swollen head

May 22, 2013

Indian doctors said Wednesday they have successfully carried out a first round of reconstructive surgery on the skull of a baby suffering from a rare disorder that caused her head to nearly double in size.

Recommended for you

Zika virus infection alters human and viral RNA

October 20, 2016

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that Zika virus infection leads to modifications of both viral and human genetic material. These modifications—chemical tags known as ...

Food-poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn's disease

October 19, 2016

People who retain a particular bacterium in their gut after a bout of food poisoning may be at an increased risk of developing Crohn's disease later in life, according to a new study led by researchers at McMaster University.

Neurodevelopmental model of Zika may provide rapid answers

October 19, 2016

A newly published study from researchers working in collaboration with the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia demonstrates fetal death and brain damage in early chick embryos similar to microcephaly—a ...

Scientists uncover new facets of Zika-related birth defects

October 17, 2016

In a study that could one day help eliminate the tragic birth defects caused by Zika virus, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have elucidated how the virus attacks the brains of newborns, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.