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The girl who doesn't age

  1. Jun 26, 2009 #1
    This is pretty fascinating..

    Article:
    http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=7880954

    Brooke rides in a stroller while her mom shops for clothes in the infant sections of department stores near their home in a Baltimore suburb. That Brooke is in her mid-teens is so mind-boggling that if another mother with a toddler asks Greenberg how old Brooke is, she usually doesn't try to explain.

    "My system always has been to turn years into months," Greenberg said. "So, if someone asked today, I might say, she's 16 months old."

    "Brooke's hair and her nails are the only two things that grow"


    Picture:
    http://abcnews.go.com/2020/popup?id=7881955
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2009 #2
    I've read about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashley_Treatment" [Broken], where parents intentionally restricted the growth of a disabled child so they could physically care for her. The original article I read about this case was in a publication about disability issues at our local wheelchair mechanic while our P was getting his chair fixed up.

    Though my spouse usually does all physical care for our son when he's available, fortunately as our P gets older, his younger brother is able to help me get him in and out of his chair so I can perform most functions to some degree of sufficiency. The care factor is, however, something that all parents of disabled children (regardless of the level of disability) think about as their children (and themselves) age, and while we want M to have a good relationship with his older brother we also don't want him to feel unnecessarily tied as a caretaker.

    This case is interesting because it's a natural case of stunted growth... and yes, let's face the facts that stunted growth helps in being able to provide basic care to a disabled child -- indeed due to high muscle tone, etc, our P at age 16 is probably about 75-80 lbs (despite a typical teenage appetite!), not the average 140 lbs... and this makes caring for him in some ways easier (before I was expecting I would get him out of his chair myself).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Jun 26, 2009 #3
    PGP: That is a very interesting point that I had never considered before. I have an older sister (I believe she is ~38) with Rett Syndrome.

    It is precisely this aspect (the weight aspect) that made it impossible for her to live at home anymore. In her late teens she eventually lost near all of her self mobility.

    Though I could probably never bring myself to intentionally stunt my own child's growth, I also cannot yet condemn the idea. After seeing the kinds of horrors my poor sister has gone through due to negligent group-home workers, I would have to at least consider all possible solutions that would enable me to maintain sole care.
     
  5. Jun 26, 2009 #4

    Monique

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    This even goes farther than that: they gave her growth hormones, but her body gave no response at all. This indeed is a very interesting medical case, why did her development stop at the age of 6 months?
     
  6. Jun 26, 2009 #5

    Danger

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    I'm really curious as to why she was ever born in the first place. I would have expected that her condition should have prevented her from developing to term, let alone to 6-month size.
     
  7. Jun 26, 2009 #6

    Monique

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    There were prenatal growth problems, where one month she was below the growth curve but the next month she had caught up her growth. Of course I can only speculate, but there could have been an incident at 6 months of age that triggered the stop in development (think for instance a virus infection that put a strain on her system).

    There are cases known where mono-zygotic or di-zygotic twins both carry the same mutation(s), but disease only manifests in one of the twin. http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/97/4/199" [Broken]

    Another speculation is that in other organisms there are different developmental stages that each require specific triggers to start that program, a defect in such a trigger would cause a developmental stage to be repeated or skipped. Maybe there is such a switch in humans that causes development past her age, but I don't have any evidence for that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Jun 26, 2009 #7
    I'm curious how the normal aging process would be changed as she grows into old age. Would her cells deteriorate giving her gray hair and wrinkly skin while staying in the shape of an infant, or would she essentially stay young forever? There's no fundamental reason why an organism can't live forever. To be honest, though, I don't think we'll get to see...I expect her to die young as a result of this for some reason.
     
  9. Jun 26, 2009 #8
    she is still subject to DNA deterioration that over time breaks down due to things like free radicals that consistently destroy our DNA and morph it....

    basically no living organism can ever "live" forever (in that sense)..... unless there was some artificial means to do so ("copying" to computers, replacement of body parts/organs, etc.)
     
  10. Jun 26, 2009 #9

    ideasrule

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    There are plenty of organisms that don't undergo aging; they are said to have biological immortality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_immortality). Of course, they're not immortal in the common sense of the word because of injury, predation, and the like.
     
  11. Jun 26, 2009 #10

    Monique

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    Living organisms have been around for a very, very long time (in a sense we've already been living forever). There will be opportunities in the future that will allow us to lead a healthy life for a much longer time.

    Having an altered metabolism could mean she ages differently, but only time can tell.
     
  12. Jun 26, 2009 #11

    Moonbear

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    The thing that bothers me looking at the photos is that the family is still dressing her like an infant even though she's 16 years old. Yes, she may have an infant-sized body, but she isn't an infant. If she isn't growing, surely it wouldn't be cost-prohibitive to have a few outfits custom sewn to fit her that are more age-appropriate for the sake of dignity.

    If growth hormone had no effect, it sounds like it must be related to the growth hormone receptor or a downstream signalling event that's disrupted. That they say she has had some growth, but not consistent and not all parts of her body are coordinated in their growth leads me to think it's more likely part of the signaling cascade, maybe an insufficient production of something, but not completely absent.
     
  13. Jun 26, 2009 #12

    lisab

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    Well, from the article,

    Hard to say what I would do in that situation (as a parent), but with a kid who looks like a baby and has limited mental capability, it might be strange to dress her like a teenager. In fact it might look sort of creepy to those who don't know her medical condition.
     
  14. Jun 26, 2009 #13

    DaveC426913

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    It appears she still needs diapers. Trying to dress her in grownup clothes seems both pointless and impractical.
     
  15. Jun 27, 2009 #14
    My roommates have a 5 year old disabled son. He has the body of an 18 month old, and the mind of a 6 month old. We still refer to him as "the baby."

    I think you put far too much emphasis on chronological age, as if it's actually meaningful in the case of developmental delays.
     
  16. Jun 27, 2009 #15

    DaveC426913

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    It would be folly to pretend that their son was "merely" a "normal" 6 month old. Your friend's son is not a baby.

    To do right by him, he should be treated as what he is: a 5-year-old with a condition that gives him the body of an 18-month-old and the mental capacity of a 6-month-old.
     
  17. Jun 27, 2009 #16
    This is very true. There is no reason why we can't just grow new cells after the old ones die or replace damaged/mutated cells. A healthy persons liver regenerates itself about every 6 months, there is no reason why this mechanism can not be shared with all other cells in the body. I've even read stories about people that start to regrow fingers or appendages after they lose them in a near death experience.

    Deepak Chopra must be having a field day with this.
     
  18. Jun 27, 2009 #17

    DaveC426913

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    By what rationale do you make this claim? It seems there are plenty of reasons.
     
  19. Jun 27, 2009 #18
    I think he meant that there is no fundamental reason why cells in one organ could not possibly regrow themselves if it was shown that cells in a different organ could regrow themselves.
     
  20. Jun 27, 2009 #19
    There's a difference between "treating him as a normal 6 month old" and calling him a "baby."

    He can't eat solid foods (drinks formula, with occasional "real" meals of apple sauce and the like), he needs a diaper, can't walk, can't talk, doesn't respond to his own name... sounds like a baby to me.

    Of course they treat him as a 5 year old with a special condition. He goes to Maryland School for the Blind, where they have a special PT/OT program for him, and he has many doctors appointments. But other than that? He's treated mostly like one would treat a baby. I don't know how else you can treat a kid who can't talk, doesn't know his own name, and his method of playing with a toy is either chewing on it or smacking it.
     
  21. Jun 28, 2009 #20

    DaveC426913

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    i.e. if it walks like a duck, we might as well treat it like a duck.

    This is how people are misunderstood and marginalized.

    Good. And so should you.

    Which is why I disagree with your initial statement "I think you put far too much emphasis on chronological age, as if it's actually meaningful in the case of developmental delays."
     
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