20-Year-Old Woman with “Syndrome X” Dies Looking Like a Toddler

Syndrome X

Diagnosed with an unexplained and unusual “Syndrome X”, 20-year-old Brooke died looking like a toddler

This article highlights the case of a 20-year-old woman who died looking like a toddler. Brooke Greenberg of Reisterstown, Md was suffering from a mysterious condition that prevented her from ageing. Her condition left medical professionals puzzled for years; the doctors then eventually dubbed her extremely rare medical condition as “Syndrome X”.

Brooke was born on January 8th, 1993, a month premature and weighed only 4 lb. (1.8 kg). She was also born with an anterior hip location. “Her hips were dislocated from where they normally would be,” says Dr. Lawrence Pakula, Brooke’s pediatrician. “Hers were pushing forward and put her legs in a very awkward position.”

For most of her life, Greenberg was under the care and attention of doctors.

She suffered from respiratory distress, stomach ulcers, orthopaedic problems and other conditions. Very early in life, Brooke had to undergo several surgeries in hope that “this would give her much better function”. Despite the struggles, the parents, Melanie and Howard, were still hopeful that they were going to have a normal child. Although, she was much bigger than the tiniest of premature babies, ever since her birth, her parents had a reason to fret about her size. The parents hoped that she would eventually catch up with her peers. However, when Brooke was about 6 months old, her younger sister was born. And when she overtook her developmentally, the parents started to believe that something was wrong with their daughter.

“She really was not growing to the rate that she should have been growing,” says Howard. “I remember the doctor saying that when Brooke enters say 4th grade she’ll be like at the first grade level. We could live with that, we had no problem with that. We really did not know the road we were about to take with Brooke.”

It wasn’t just Brooke’s inability to grow, she also started developing serious medical conditions

During the first few years of her life, Brooke was able to eat normally. However, she later developed stomach problems and had to be fed through a feeding pump. She would frequently be hospitalised for respiratory problems and also suffered from a stroke during this tenure.

Brooke was taken to several specialists over the years. Her parents had no history of abnormal development. DNA studies showed no gene abnormalities associated with ageing. Doctors even prescribed her with growth hormones but there was absolutely zero change. Greenberg’s entire developmental process stopped when she reached the age of 5. Unable to come to a conclusive diagnosis, the doctors referred to her condition as “Syndrome X”. There are a number of such cases that have been identified in the U.S. and overseas, with most of these cases still medically unexplained. Doctors believe that slow development begins in the womb. The growth may be stunted for a month and catch up the following month. The process may continue after birth.

Brooke died on October 24th, 2013 at the age of 20 years. Her case raises several questions about how people age and if it is possible to interrupt normal development.

Brooke’s parents consented to having their daughter’s DNA sequenced at Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City for research. Scientists have inserted her genes in fruit flies to understand how the genes affected her development.


20-Year-Old Woman Dies Looking Like Toddler https://healthland.time.com/2013/10/29/20-year-old-woman-dies-looking-like-toddler/

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Dr. Aiman Shahab is a dentist with a bachelor’s degree from Dow University of Health Sciences. She is an experienced freelance writer with a demonstrated history of working in the health industry. Skilled in general dentistry, she is currently working as an associate dentist at a private dental clinic in Karachi, freelance content writer and as a part time science instructor with Little Medical School. She has also been an ambassador for PDC in the past from the year 2016 – 2018, and her responsibilities included acting as a representative and volunteer for PDC with an intention to make the dental community of Pakistan more connected and to work for benefiting the underprivileged. When she’s not working, you’ll either find her reading or aimlessly walking around for the sake of exploring. Her future plans include getting a master’s degree in maxillofacial and oral surgery, settled in a metropolitan city of North America.


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