Progeria: Facing old age is hard - facing it during childhood is unthinkable

August 26, 2003

Fleur Tobutt was a lot like every other two-year old. She was cute, curious and full of life, but something set her apart from the typical toddler: Fleur had a fatal disease, and her life was destined to be short lived.

Little Fleur was one in approximately 30 to 40 children worldwide currently diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Progeria. Children with Progeria are, in spirit, just the same as any other child, but physically, they look like very old men and women and live an average lifespan of only 13 years. Discovery Health Channel features Fleur's story, PROGERIA: TOO YOUNG TO BE OLD, Tuesday, September 9 at 10 PM ET/PT.

Progeria is a condition characterized by an appearance of accelerated aging among children. Although one in eight million are diagnosed at birth, the total incidence is one in four million. Not only do children with Progeria look extremely old, but their bodies are affected by age-related diseases, such as stroke, heart attack and stiffness in joints. Common physical symptoms include dwarfism, baldness, aged skin, a pinched nose, and a small face and jaw relative to the size of the head.

Although there is currently no cure for this disease, National Cancer Institute scientists have made remarkable discoveries pertaining to Progeria. In examining an animal model with Progeria, scientists noticed a specific mutation in the Lamin A gene, which seems to account for Progeria symptoms. This new research brings scientists closer to some day finding a cure for this disease and offers hope to those living with it.

Sadly, Fleur lost her battle with Progeria at nearly three years old. This program gives viewers the opportunity to share in the life of Fleur Tobutt and her family as they face this devastating disease. Viewers will also experience the joy and tears of other children living with Progeria as the cameras capture a very special reunion for kids suffering from this disease worldwide.

PROGERIA: TOO YOUNG TO BE OLD was produced by Planet Wild for ITV. For Planet Wild, the executive producer was Paula Trafford. For Discovery Health Channel, Clare Roy is supervising producer.

Discovery Health Channel takes viewers inside the fascinating and informative world of health and medicine to experience firsthand, compelling, real-life stories of medical breakthroughs and human triumphs. Currently in 44 million homes, Discovery Health Channel is the only 24-hour network and Web site - - devoted to what matters most - health.

Discovery Health Channel

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