Progeria, also known as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), is an uncommon genetic condition which causes a child’s body to age fast. Recent studies showed that the disease affects about 1 in every 4 million births worldwide. Kids with the disease do not live past age 13.
The disease is neither hereditary nor is it associated with a genetic transfer. A single mistake in a particular gene causes an abnormal protein (Progerin) to break down easily thereby resulting in kids with progeria.
Progeria-carrying kids look normal at birth but as they get to their first year, the symptoms starts to manifest. Here are the symptoms
- A bigger head
- Large eyes
- A small lower jaw
- A thin nose with a “beaked” tip
- Ears that stick out
- Veins you can see
- Slow and abnormal tooth growth
- A high-pitched voice
- Loss of body fat and muscle
- Hair loss, including eyelashes and eyebrows
The doctor checks the blood pressure, height and weight of the child, hearing and vision and also measures the heart pulse of the child, if possible, he can do a blood test.
No cure for now, although there is an on-going research. A kind of cancer drug, FTIs (farnesyltransferase inhibitors), may fix the damaged cells.
Treatments usually help ease or delay some of the disease’s symptoms.
Medication. The child’s doctor may prescribe drugs to lower cholesterol or prevent blood clots. A low dose of aspirin every day can help prevent heart attacks and stroke. Growth hormone can help build height and weight.
Physical and occupational therapy If the child has stiff joints or hip problems, this can help the child keep moving.
Surgery. Some children may have coronary bypass surgery or angioplasty to slow the progression of heart disease.
At home. Kids with progeria are more likely to get dehydrated, so they need to drink plenty of water, especially when they’re sick or it’s hot. Small meals more often can help them eat enough, too. Cushioned shoes or inserts can ease discomfort and encourage your child to play and stay active.