The latest TLC Special, "40-Year-Old Child: A New Case," followed several families with children who seem to defy natural aging. One of the "children" profiled was Audenete. At 31-years-old, she lives with her father and stepmother on a farm in Brazil. Audenete weighs just 29 pounds and still has the body shape and proportions of a typical toddler.
She was more than five times smaller than the average woman her age. But she could see, hear and function like an adult. Her mind is that of a typical woman her age. It's her body that has fallen decades behind.
“She believes she is a woman," said Audenete's stepmom, Dora. "She likes to look pretty, to wear jewelry, to brush her hair.”
Dr. Richard Walker, an aging specialist, discovered that Audenete had a thyroid condition that impeded her growth. While hormone treatments could improve her health, Dr. Walker thinks it's unlikely she'll ever grow any bigger. He went on to say that studying people like Audenete could be the key to figuring out that mythical fountain of youth.
Understanding why these children are the way they are, from hormone deficiencies to chromosomal mutations, could unlock the secret to longer life for all of us.
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