Disorder with characteristics of premature aging. Affected persons have thin skin, go bald or gray early, and develop diseases of aging decades earlier than normal individuals. Not all systems are affected; there is no senility, no aging in the central nervous system. There are two major types. In the extremely rare Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, children look 60 years old by age 10 and die at an average age of 13. The unrelated Werner syndrome is a recessive hereditary disease that begins in young adulthood and makes patients look 30 years older than they are; their average life span is 47 years.
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