A little U.S. girl has the facial features and skin of a newborn and she totally depends on her mother who feeds, diapers and cradles her tiny frame as she did the day she was born.
Gabby Williams from Billings, Mont., is 8 years old, but weighs only 5kg. The girl has an unusual for her age condition of the body, which is typical for only a handful of others in the world, that slows her rate of aging.
“Gabrielle hasn’t changed since pretty much forever,” the girl’s mother Mary revealed to reporters. “She has gotten a little longer and we have jumped into putting her in size 3-6 month clothes instead of 0-3 months for the footies.”
The girl’s condition is extremely rare and it does not even have a name, reports Nine MSN.
Gabrielle’s condition has been thoroughly examined by a doctor who is trying to find the genetic off-switch to stop the aging process. He also studies two other people who have striking similarities.
Medical researcher Richard F Walker suggested that the 8-year-old has a slowed-down process of developmental inertia, the process that allows the body to grow and change as it ages.
“Without that process we never develop,” he explained. “When we develop, all the pieces of our body come together and change and are coordinated. Otherwise, there would be chaos.”
The professional also revealed that the developmental inertia causes the internal order in the body to progressively erode as people grow older.
Discovering the secret of the girl’s unusual body condition could lead to discovering a way to stop developmental inertia once people reach maturity.
“If we could identify the gene and then at young adulthood we could silence the expression of developmental inertia, find an off-switch, when you do that, there is perfect homeostasis and you are biologically immortal,” Dr Walker said.
However, that doesn’t mean that people will never die. Disease and accidents will still end human life.
“But you wouldn’t have the later years — you’d remain physically and functionally able,” the researcher explained.
That is why he believes his study of Gabby’ genetic code is so important. “She fits the model,” he said.
“We’ve been on this journey to find out, are my other children at any risk in having a child like Gabrielle,” said the girl’s mother, who has five other children between the ages of 1 and 10.
“We did find out with Dr. Walker when he did the [gene] sequencing that it’s not something we can pass on but just an abnormality, a mutated gene that was just happenstance,” she said. “That was a relief for us.”
A 29-year-old man has the size of a 10-year-old, and a 31-year-old woman has the body of a 2-year-old. Like Gabby, neither seems to get older.
Finding out what these three people may have in common is the main topic of a TLC television special, “40-Year-Old Child: A New Case,” which airs Monday, Aug. 19, at 10 p.m.
“In some people, something happens to them and the development process is retarded,” said Walker. “The rate of change in the body slows and is negligible.”
The medical researcher is retired from the University of Florida Medical School and he now studies the pecularities of Gabby’s body at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
“My whole career has been focused on the aging process,” he told reporters. “My fixation has been not on the consequences but the cause of it.”