January 28, 2023

The Real-Life Thumbelina – The Four-Year-Old As sᴍᴀʟʟ As A Doll

The Real-Life Thumbelina – The Four-Year-Old As sᴍᴀʟʟ As A Doll

Sophia Hecimovic measures just 87cm – much sᴍᴀʟʟer than other children her age – and doctors can’t work out what is ᴡʀᴏɴɢ with her. A mum has told how her tiny four-year-old daughter, who is just two feet tall and weighs only two stone, has ʟᴇꜰᴛ doctors ʙᴀFFʟᴇᴅ.

Born sᴍᴀʟʟer than a doll, Sophia Hecimovic measures just 87cm – compared to the 102cm average height for girls her age, who weigh nearly a stone more. Oᴅᴅʟʏ, ᴛᴇsᴛs have shown the adorable child does produce growth ʜᴏʀᴍᴏɴᴇs, so ᴍᴇᴅɪᴄs cannot figure out why she is so tiny.

Her mum Effie Panayiotou, 29, said: “It’s so ꜰʀᴜsᴛʀᴀᴛɪɴɢ, because we don’t have an answer as to why she’s so much sᴍᴀʟʟer than other children her age. Developmentally she’s behind as well – it took her two-and-a-half years to walk. People are very surprised when they see her and find out her age because she’s so sᴍᴀʟʟ.”

Doctors first spotted Sophia was growing ᴀʙɴᴏʀᴍᴀʟʟʏ after Effie’s 19-week scan. The nursing student was advised to have a ᴄᴀᴇsᴀʀᴇᴀn at 36 weeks at Sydney Southwest Private Hospital, where medical staff kept a close eye on her delivery. Sophia arrived into the world weighing just 4lb and 13oz and measuring 46cm – below average for a newborn. And when she was placed beside a doll her mum had bought for her, Sophia was shorter. For three weeks, the little mite was kept in hospital and closely monitored. Appearing weak, blood ᴛᴇsᴛs for chromosomal defects – came back ɴᴇɢᴀᴛɪᴠᴇ.

Despite her ᴅɪᴇᴛ ᴏF ʜɪɢʜ-ᴄᴀʟᴏʀɪᴇ Fᴏʀᴍᴜʟᴀ, sʜᴇ Fᴀɪʟᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ɢᴀɪɴ ᴡᴇɪɢʜᴛ and missed the usual milestones. These included failing to sit up until she was nine months old, compared to the usual four to six months.

“I was very ᴡᴏʀʀɪᴇᴅ ʙᴇᴄᴀᴜsᴇ sʜᴇ ʜᴀᴅ ᴛʜᴇ sᴛʀᴇɴɢᴛʜ ᴛᴏ ᴛᴜʀɴ pages, but didn’t have the strength to sit up. At eight months, she weighed just 11lbs and had grown to 61cm. In addition to her stagnated mobility, Sophia lost the ability to speak after her first birthday, despite saying ‘mumma’ and ‘dog’ at five months.” Effie said.

Aged one, she was ᴅɪᴀɢɴᴏsᴇᴅ ᴡɪᴛʜ Rᴏʙɪɴᴏᴡ Sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ, a ʀᴀʀᴇ ɢᴇɴᴇᴛɪᴄ ᴅɪsᴏʀᴅᴇʀ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴀFFᴇᴄᴛs ᴛʜᴇ ᴅᴇᴠᴇʟᴏᴘᴍᴇɴᴛ ᴏF ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏɴᴇs. Only 250 families worldwide are ᴀFFᴇᴄᴛᴇᴅ ʙʏ Rᴏʙɪɴᴏᴡ Sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ. But Effie was relieved to finally have an answer for her daughter’s short sᴛᴀᴛᴜʀᴇ, especially as her ᴄᴏɴᴅɪᴛɪᴏɴ ᴡᴀs ɴᴏᴛ ᴅᴇᴇᴍᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ʟɪFᴇ-ʟɪᴍɪᴛɪɴɢ. With the help of Fᴏʀᴛɴɪɢʜᴛʟʏ ᴘʜʏsɪᴄᴀʟ ᴛʜᴇʀᴀᴘʏ sᴇssɪᴏɴs, ʜᴇʀ ᴍᴏʙɪʟɪᴛʏ sᴛᴀʀᴛᴇᴅ ɪᴍᴘʀᴏᴠɪɴɢ. And by 17 months, she could crawl. Slowly, she started talking again although at first, her speech was ᴍᴜFFʟᴇᴅ.

For months, Sophia went from strength to strength. Then, when she turned two, the family received another ʙʟᴏᴡ, when they Fᴏᴜɴᴅ ᴏᴜᴛ sʜᴇ ʜᴀᴅ ʜɪɢʜ-Fᴜɴᴄᴛɪᴏɴɪɴɢ ᴀᴜᴛɪsᴍ. Around 22 months after that they learned that Sophia’s Rᴏʙɪɴᴏᴡ Sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ ʜᴀᴅ ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴍɪsᴅɪᴀɢɴᴏsᴇᴅ. Typically those with the sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʟᴀʀɢᴇʀ ʜᴇᴀᴅs ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴀʀᴇᴅ to their bodies – which Sophia does not have.

Her ᴄᴏɢɴɪᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴀʙɪʟɪᴛʏ ɪs ᴀʟsᴏ ɴᴏᴛ ᴀFFᴇᴄᴛᴇᴅ. Now back to square one, the family, from Australia, are continuing with their quest to discover the exact cause of Sophia’s growth and ᴅᴇᴠᴇʟᴏᴘᴍᴇɴᴛᴀʟ ᴅɪFFɪᴄᴜʟᴛɪᴇs. Other ᴛᴇsᴛs for growth ʜᴏʀᴍᴏɴᴇs have come back normal.Now four, despite her sᴍᴀʟʟ sᴛᴀᴛᴜʀᴇ, Sophia has a larger-than-life personality – more like a teenager’s, according to her mum.

Effie added: “She’s so bubbly and sociable. She loves swimming and ballet dancing, and loves singing Taylor Swift and Whitney Houston songs.She’s just like any other four year-old but she’s much sᴍᴀʟʟer.”



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