20-Year-Old Woman Dies Looking Like Toddler

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Diagnosed with a mysterious condition that prevented her from aging, Brooke Greenberg was old enough to drive but lived her life in a crib.

From the moment she was born, Baby Brooke’s parents had reason to fret about her size. She was a month premature and weighed only 4 lb. (1.8 kg), much bigger than the tiniest preemies, but far too small for comfort. For a time, it was easy to hope she would catch up with her peers, but when her younger sister was born and eventually overtook her developmentally — walking, talking and maturing cognitively — it became impossible to deny that something was wrong. For most of her life, Greenberg remained frozen at age 5 — and for most of her life, she was under the care and attention of doctors, with orthopedic problems, stomach ulcers, respiratory distress and other conditions, according to NBC News.

DNA studies turned up no abnormalities in the genes associated with aging, her parents had no history of abnormal development and all of her sisters (she had three) were normal as well. There are so many unanswered questions about Greenberg’s condition that scientists continue to refer to it as simply Syndrome X. For now, some developmental experts suspect that the slowed development begins in the womb; growth may be stunted for one month, and then catch up the following month. This process may continue even after birth, in a one-step-forward-two-step-back pattern throughout a patient’s life. In Greenberg’s case, however, the entire developmental process stopped when she reached the age of 5. A handful of similar cases have been identified in the U.S. and overseas, and those remain medically unexplained as well.

Greenberg died on Oct. 24, but her unusual condition raises intriguing questions about how people age, and whether it’s possible to interrupt normal development in any way to bypass what seems to be the inevitable march toward old age. Those opportunities weren’t lost on Greenberg’s parents, either. “She literally is the fountain of youth if you think about it,” her father Howard told NBC in 2005. They consented to having their daughter’s DNA sequenced by researchers at the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City to learn more about longevity; the scientists have inserted her genes into fruit flies to better understand how they affected her development, the Huffington Post reports.

Her funeral was on Sunday in Pikesville, Md.

23 comments
relcontrario
relcontrario

My comment is not about this article, but about the JFK articles in this version of TIME.  Has anyone noticed that TIME allows no comments on their whitewash of the JFK assassination?  Why?  Because TIME works with the government to cover up the JFK assassination.  Why else?

chelle68
chelle68

So sad.  I saw Brooke for the first time a few years ago, on a tv special.  I think there were a few made and I watched them all.  She had a very loving family and my heart goes out to them in their time of loss.  She was a special child born into a special family and the gifts they each received were ten-fold, even with the struggles. 

RichardFlemming
RichardFlemming

An intriguing new book went up on Amazon by an expert on ageing and age reversal science. It is "Resveratrol - Is there a limit to human lifespan" by Dr Betz. Definitely worth the read, and the ten bucks.

betherzilla
betherzilla

My sympathy to the family.  It is so sad when a child is afflicted as Brooke was.

TallusRip
TallusRip

It's very brave of the parents to allow their daughter's biology to be investigated by scientists after her death.  Many people are too blinded by religion, superstition or unintelligible taboo/quackery to allow such a thing.  My condolences to the family and friends.  Brooke suffers no more.

MartinHarvey
MartinHarvey

@relcontrario My comment is not about your comment, but about the comment about the "Add Inches!" (No, Really, Men Can Make it Longer!) article. Has anyone noticed that TIME allows no comments on their whitewash of the dangers of having a small penis? Why? Because Time works with the government to cover up the small penis epidemic that is plaguing America. Why else?

jojowiththeflow
jojowiththeflow

@chelle68 Very well said, you expressed my feelings better than I could have ever done. My heart goes out to this beautiful, loving family.

BrianGlave
BrianGlave

Very sad that this has to happen this is just to much sadness in the world Just why you can't just leave people alone god let people live No one want death or to die U need to stop taking people and making them die or be dead You need to stop lord Stop taking people

evan13579b
evan13579b

@RichardFlemming 

Ya the problem with that is that they assume that what this child has implies we can go without aging. Note: this adult child is dead. It was aging in a sense. Its body WAS getting worse over time. Its body finally failed, and much quicker than for the average person in spite of almost constant medical attention.

bus702
bus702

 @TallusRip Allowing their daughter's DNA (if it also happened Post her death) wouldn't interfere with religion nor obstruct anyone from being - as you assess - "blinded by... superstition or unintelligible taboo/quackery". It's not like they're donating her body. Her parents already had been letting the doctors use her DNA for scientific purposes when she was alive because they were also curious, like hundreds of thousands of other people.

evan13579b
evan13579b

@TallusRip 

 Its not brave at all. What are you talking about?

 Its helpful, but its not brave. Its not like they can hurt her as she's already dead.

SilenceDoGood3
SilenceDoGood3

@evan13579b Yes. There is a difference between development and age. They are not developing, which is different from ageing. Had they lived long enough they would show signs of conventional ageing.

SharpInk
SharpInk

@evan13579b  

"She"; not "it". For pity's sake, she was a human being, not a fruit fly.

RiniHara
RiniHara

@bus702 @TallusRip Of course the family was letting the doctors do what they needed to for Brooke and preserve her DNA as well. This is pro science and pro learning about ourselves and our universe.. and yes there are people who don't believe in that... which is sad.

RiniHara
RiniHara

@evan13579b @TallusRip For some of the superstitious and fearful it was brave.. sadly. But I'm glad this family shared their unusual experience. The saddest part, to me, is that she was never able to talk or even understand her situation from what I can gather. 

BrianGlave
BrianGlave

No one should have to die or be dead she was young only 20 and very sad that it had to happen so sad that we have to die or pass away No one should have to die like that Or ever have to be find in death