Brooke Greenberg has celebrated 12 birthdays according to the calendar and her family photo albums. In terms of growing up, however, she has yet to reach her first.
To the mystification of the medical world, Brooke is frozen in time, a real-life, female Peter Pan. She weighs 13lb and measures 27 inches, and looks and acts as if she were a six-month-old baby, not a girl about to become a teenager.
Brooke lives with her parents Howard and Melanie Greenberg and her three sisters in Reisterstown, a Baltimore suburb, and doctors credit her survival to their love and support. advertisement
"She hasn't changed in 12 years," Mr Greenberg, 48, told The Sunday Telegraph. He does not see his beloved daughter as an object of pity. "Why is it sad?" he asks. "We love her the way she is."
For 12 years the family has changed her nappies, rocked her to sleep and taken turns to give her cuddles. On school days, she is carried gently into a yellow bus and taken to a special school for handicapped children. Her condition has no name and doctors are unaware of any other child in her situation.
Brooke has learned to pull herself up in her cot, crawl across the floor and scoot along in a specially adapted baby-walker. She smiles at people she recognises, but has never been able to say a single word. She does finger paintings when presented with a pot of paint and sheet of paper.
She recognises her family, and giggles when tickled. She has no language skills but has a "sense of self" in that she suffers from healthy sibling rivalry. When her younger sister Carly, now nine, was born, Brooke would cry with jealousy until Mrs Greenberg, 44, picked her up along with the new baby.
That, however, is about as far as she has developed. She simply does not age.