American girl who stayed a tot dies at age 20

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."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

CDC frees up drug that fights brain-eating amoeba

Aug 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 ...

Huge tumor removed from pregnant Bolivian woman

Mar 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

US looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

6 hours ago

The next Ebola or the next SARS. Maybe even the next HIV. Even before the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is brought under control, U.S. public health officials are girding for the next health disaster.

Can robots help stop the Ebola outbreak?

15 hours ago

The US military has enlisted a new germ-killing weapon in the fight against Ebola—a four-wheeled robot that can disinfect a room in minutes with pulses of ultraviolet light.

New bird flu case in Germany

15 hours ago

A worrying new strain of bird flu has been observed for the first time in a wild bird in northern Germany, the agriculture ministry said Saturday.

Mali announces new Ebola case

Nov 22, 2014

Mali announced Saturday a new case of Ebola in a man who is fighting for his life in an intensive care unit in the capital Bamako.

Plague outbreak kills 40 in Madagascar: WHO

Nov 22, 2014

An outbreak of plague has killed 40 people in Madagascar, the World Health Organization said, warning that the disease could spread rapidly in the country's densely populated capital Antananarivo.

User comments

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.