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Woman Who Never Ages, Brooke Greenberg Died at Age 20 from Condition Known as Syndrome X

Brooke Greenberg Now

Brooke Greenberg, a 20-year old woman who looked like a toddler due to an extremely rare condition known as "Syndrome X" has died.

She never grew beyond the physical size of an infant and had never developed beyond the mental capacity of a 2-year-old, but showed no signs of any genetic abnormalities.

Her parents realized something was wrong when Brooke’s younger sister began to outgrow her. "She really was not growing to the rate that she should have been growing," her father, Howard told NBC News. "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."

"Even the geneticists were perplexed," recalls Dr. Lawrence Pakula, Brooke's pediatrician. "They could not find any abnormalities in her chromosomes." The Greenberg’s pediatrician consulted with specialists, looked for references in medical literature, but came up with nothing.

Brooke Greenberg has had to be pushed around in a stroller all her life. In 2009, when her family was interviewed on ABC's "20/20," Brook weighed 16 pounds and was 30 inches tall. She didn't speak, but laughed when she was happy, and was able to recognize her three sisters: Emily, now 26; Caitlin, now 23; and Carly, now 17.

No one really thought she would live for very long and doctors told the Greenbergs to be prepared for Brooke's death. They had a casket and clothing picked out years ago for this horrible event.

At the age of four, Brooke fell into a lethargy that caused her to sleep for 14 days. Doctors had diagnosed her with a brain tumor, that's when the Greenbergs bought a casket.

"We were preparing for our child to die," Howard Greenberg told ABC in 2009. "We were saying goodbye. And, then, we got a call that there was some change -- that Brooke had opened her eyes and she was fine. There was no tumor. She overcomes every obstacle that is thrown her way."

Rabi Andrew Busch, who delivered the eulogy at the 20-year old toddler’s funeral, told the New York Daily News that “while the outside world may have noticed Brooke’s physical stature and been puzzled by her unique development state, she brought joy and love to her family. Her parents, three sisters and extended family showered her with love and respected her dignity throughout her entire life.”

Brooke's funeral was held 10 a.m. Sunday at Levinson Chapel in Pikesville. She was buried at Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery.

According to ABC News, Brooke Greenberg is one of about a dozen toddlers worldwide ho have “what some call syndrome X — a kind of Benjamin Button disorder that prevents them from aging.”

A colleague of Brooke’s father told ABC News that the family is doing as well as can be expected. “They are going through their traditions this week — the shiva.”

Brooke Greenberg: Woman Who Never Ages

The Brooke Greenberg is a child frozen in time although she looks like a little baby, she is actually 15 years old. Doctors are stumped by her condition and have called it syndrome x as no one has ever seen this condition before.

20-Year-Old Woman Brooke Greenberg Who Looks like a Toddler

Diagnosed with a mysterious condition that prevented her from aging, Brooke Greenberg was old enough to drive but lived her life in a crib. DNA studies turned up no abnormalities in the genes associated with aging, her parents had no history of abnormal development and all of her sisters (she had three) were normal as well. There are so many unanswered questions about Greenberg's condition that scientists continue to refer to it as simply Syndrome X.

20-year-old Woman Trapped in Child's Body

Brooke Greenberg seemed to be a happy, thriving baby when she was born in 1993 -- but as she got older, it appeared as though something was wrong.When she was 4, she went into a coma, in which her father thought she might die. Brooke continued to be challenged in ways that would affect her future, her family and herself as the result of this unexplained medical condition where she has stopped growing physically and mentally.


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1 Responses »

  1. Thank you for your story on this fascinating life. The only correction I would make is referring to her siblings as "normal". While Brooke was not an average person, her "normal" was having Condition X. Being normal is subjective and cannot be qualified as you attempted to do. If media would simply use the word AVERAGE, persons with different abilities wouldn't be judged and categorized as "them". Please help the cause of inclusivity rather than being part of the problem.

    thank you.