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What Are the Different Progeria Symptoms?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jami Yontz
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Progeria, also known as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, is a genetic condition that causes a child to age faster than normal. Children with progeria exhibit many of the characteristics of aging in older people, including wrinkled skin and various health conditions. Those affected by progeria will appear normal at birth, but may also be underweight, and have a disproportionate jaw-to-head size ratio. This disease is fatal, and most people affected by the condition will only live to be 13 years old. Treatments for progeria symptoms and related illnesses of the disease are available, but the condition cannot be cured.

Progeria is caused by the mutation of the lamin A (LMNA) gene. This disease is not hereditary, but is instead a genetic mutation that affects either the sperm or the egg. The condition is extremely rare and only affects one in 18 million children born every year. There is no way to prevent the disease from occurring.

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Progeria symptoms are usually physical, and are easily identified by the appearance of the person. The child will be underweight, with a large head and a small, disproportionate-sized jaw. Within the first two years of the child’s life, he or she may develop wrinkly, loose skin, large veins on the head, and a high-pitched voice. The child will be of below-average height, and his or her nose may develop into a beak-like shape. Progeria may cause scleroderma, which causes the skin to thicken and tighten, and the condition can lead to hair loss, including eyebrow and eyelash, and muscle loss.

The early onset of the aging process will cause other, more serious conditions to develop. Atherosclerosis in children is a common sign of progeria. This condition causes the artery walls of the blood vessels to thicken, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and cardiac arrest. Atherosclerosis is usually the cause of death of people with Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome. Progeria symptoms also include joint stiffness, pain, and problems often associated with osteoarthritis in elderly patients.

Other diseases that normally affect a person as he or she ages will affect children with progeria symptoms. Cataracts are a common issue for many children with this disease. The development of type II diabetes or heart conditions is common because many children with this condition are resistant to insulin. Brain function will develop normally during the developmental years of a child with progeria because the condition only affects the child's physical characteristics.

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