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The curious case of a 26-year-old baby

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Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times

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Guwahati, April 10, 2009



Pediatricians in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong are baffled by a baby who should have been a man.

At an age when men usually sire, Jerly Lyngdoh is trapped in the body and mind of a baby aged between one and two years. Chronologically in his 26th year, he has a head circumference that babies 9-12 months old have, measures 84 cm like any two-year-old and weighs 10 kilos.

“Jerly’s infantile features are remarkable, and the only things he shares with an adult are his teeth,” pediatrician Dr J. Ryndong told Hindustan Times from Shillong. “We think this is a case of pan-hypo pituitarism leading to poor secretion of growth hormones from pituitary glands.”

According to Ryndong — who is investigating Jerly’s case along with colleague Dr H. Giri — the 26-year-old baby isn’t exactly in the stunted growth category.

“His is a case opposite to progeria, which means advanced ageing, and we have reasons to say Jerly is a rarity.” He ruled out the genetic factor, since all six of Jerly's siblings have no physical or mental disability.

Jerly’s illiterate, agrarian parents at Sahsniang Block I village in Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills district didn’t notice anything abnormal after his birth. However, mother Merilda Lyngdoh thought Jerly suffered from some kind of epilepsy when he turned four months.

Too poor to afford proper treatment, Merilda unsuccessfully turned to a traditional healer to cure Jerly’s epilepsy. “My folks felt Jerly had brought a curse upon the family and wanted him to be disposed of but I resisted,” she said.

A charitable society helped her bring Jerly to Shillong Civil Hospital, where he underwent treatment for 17 months before being referred to Ganesh Das Hospital. “We are looking at various factors that prevented him from growing beyond infancy and being able to speak,” said Dr Ryndong, adding that Jerly has to depend on his mother for every activity.

The pediatricians, however, pointed out that digging deep would translate into huge expenses. “We also plan to seek expertise from the medical world beyond to crack Jerly’s case,” the doctor said.

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