Brooke Greenberg, born January 8, 1993, in Baltimore, Maryland, has just celebrated her 20th birthday. Unlike other 20-year-olds, she has a toddler’s body, and cannot speak or walk. She spends her days in a stroller and is fed through a feeding tube, as her esophagus is too underdeveloped to allow for normal eating. She also wears diapers and weighs a mere 16 pounds. At 30 inches in height, she has grown minimally since she was a baby.
Greenberg was born one month premature with a low birth weight of four pounds. Soon afterward, she underwent surgery to correct anterior hip dislocation, which pushes the legs into an upward position pointing to the shoulders. Aside from this condition, Greenberg was a normal baby.
The first six years of Greenberg’s life were filled with mysterious illnesses. She suffered seizures, stomach ulcers, and even a brain tumor, which later just vanished. At some point between the ages of four and five, Greenberg stopped growing and developing.
Greenberg’s parents took her to many specialists to try and determine the source of her medical problems and lack of growth. An endocrinologist treated her with growth hormone, which yielded no results. Soon afterward, unable to give a proper diagnosis, Greenberg’s condition was named Syndrome X.
Greenberg’s case was eventually taken on in New York by Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Dr. Eric Schadt, a specialist in biology and genomics. He sees Syndrome X as a means of expanding science to explore how growth and development work in the body. This could prove useful, especially with UK DNA testing.
While doctors have not been able to figure out why Greenberg is the way she is, they have made other discoveries while studying her. For instance, although her body remains the size of a toddler, her actual aging appears to be normal as evidenced by the shortening of the telomeres on her chromosomes.
Her brain has matured only slightly since her birth, but her bones are like those of a ten-year-old, and she still has all of her baby teeth, which are usually lost by age eight. It seems that different parts of Greenberg’s body are developing at vastly different rates as if they are all separate units rather than a single one.
Two other children are known to have similar issues. An Australian boy, born in 1970, is currently 42 and has the body of a little boy. A girl born in Montana is 2004 is nearly the same as Greenberg.
Greenberg’s parents have stated that even if someone were to hand them a pill that would magically cure her condition, they would refuse it. They love her the way she is and do not consider her to be broken and in need of fixing.