40-Year-Old Child: A new case will shock the medical mystery behind the unknown syndrome, which affects just a few people all over the world. Among others, eight-year-old Gabby Williams, from Billings, Montana, whose body resembles that of a toddler, and whose condition has left her blind and unable to speak.
Gabby Williams has the facial features and skin of a newborn, and she is just as dependent. Her mother feeds, diapers and cradles her tiny frame as she did the day she was born.
The little girl from Billings, Mont., is 8 years old, but weighs only 11 pounds. Gabby has a mysterious condition, shared by only a handful of others in the world, which slows her rate of aging.
For the past two years, a doctor who has been trying to find the genetic off-switch to stop the aging process has been studying Gabby, as well as two other people who have striking similarities.
Born on May 7, 1981, Maria Audete do Nascimento still has the body of a baby. Maria belongs to a poor family, living in a mud house in Ceara, Brazil. Her family consists of her father and his second wife, who has been caring for her ever since her own mother died, 13 years ago.
The family cannot afford to provide any form of treatment for Maria, whose condition could have been reversed if treated at birth. For now, she continues to live like a baby, unable to tend to her own needs, and unable, even to speak.
Experts from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ceara believe that what Maria suffers from is a severe deficiency of the thyroid hormone. As a result of hypothyroidism, her body was never able to develop physically or mentally.
They also went on to say that if the case had been identified early on, Maria may have grown up as a normal child. The University has agreed to provide free treatment to Maria, to enable her to be a little more independent – to walk, eat and say a few words. But for now she is, in some ways, what every parent wishes for – a child that never grows up.