Peter Pan may never have wanted to grow up, but 8-year old Gabby Williams of Billings, MT simply can’t. In fact, the little girl still has the same facial features and skin of a newborn infant, weighs only 11 lbs, and needs to be cared for in all ways just the same as she has since birth.
“Gabrielle hasn’t changed pretty much forever,” states her mom, Mary Margaret Williams, who must still feed and diaper her daughter. “She has gotten a little longer, and we have jumped from putting her in size 0-3 months for the footies to 3-6 months.”
Gabby, and others like her, including a 31-year old woman from Brazil who is still the size of a 2-year old, and a 29-year old Florida man with the body of a 10-year old, are afflicted with a “lack of developmental inertia, essential for human growth,” according to medical researcher Richard F. Walker, who has spent his professional life studying the aging process and what causes it. “Their bodies are missing a ‘stop watch’ for this development in which maturation normally occurs after reproduction.”
He currently does his research at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fl.
He also noted that people afflicted with this condition have a growth rate that is 1/5 normal, and generally do not exhibit the first (subtle) internal changes of aging until they are in their 30’s. These then become more pronounced in their 40’s, at which time “there is a progressive erosion of the internal order as a result of their developmental inertia,” he continued.
The victims also tend to suffer other medical problems such as being unable to eat, speak or walk.
Walker will attempt to decipher the mystery of what Gabby and the others have in common during a special, “The 40-year Old Child: A New Case,” Monday April 19th on TLC. The show is a follow-up to a program about Gabrielle Williams, which aired in 2012.