Girl's rare illness keeps her from aging

Imagine having a 3-year-old child who still looks like a little baby because her genes refuse to age properly, and apparently never will. Then, when doctors look at her, they can't figure out what's wrong.

That's what the Qualls family in Oklahoma has been experiencing for years, Fox News reports. "She's seen, it seems, like every specialist there is, everything comes back normal," says Felicia Qualls, who's mother to little Layla.

It started when newborn Layla wouldn't eat, and couldn't gain weight; now, she weighs only 19 pounds. She's also among seven children worldwide diagnosed with Syndrome X, which slows down the aging process both physically and mentally, KWTV Oklahoma City reports.

Experts from UCLA looked at her genetic blueprint to try and spot the problem genes, but found that her blood appeared to have aged normally.

"It would have been nice to say we found a footprint of the mechanism that could explain that condition," says study author Steve Horvath. "As a researcher you need to continue searching."

For Felicia, it's more of the same: "And that is frustrating because you know after all those tests, they're all normal but we know she's not normal," she says. "She might be like this forever and she might not walk and do other things that other children do but that's okay with us, we still love her." Meanwhile, researchers are continuing to delve into their genetic study of Syndrome X.


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