Clinic opens to study growth condition

A first-of-its-kind center is now open in the area for children suffering from an unusual condition that affects their growth.

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The condition, Albright’s hereditary osteodystrophy, makes children very large when they’re young but very short as adults.

Adult men average five feet tall. Women average about four feet.

Dr. Emily Germain-Lee has studied the condition for decades. She recently opened the very first Albrights clinic at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

“Finally I've been able to give them something that will make a difference in their lives,” she said.

She discovered that 70 percent of patients are growth-hormone deficient. Daily injections of growth hormone during childhood can increase their height by up to eight inches.

“Their bones are going to fuse early, so you're really fighting with time to get their height up as quickly as possible,” she said.

Karlee Kenny’s size has attracted attention her entire life.

As a child, she towered over her classmates. She said she was teased a lot in school.

But suddenly, and prematurely, her plates fused at age 11. She is now 17.

Her mother, Shari Kenny, also suffers from the condition. But Karlee’s is more severe.

“People perceived both me as force feeding her and her as eating a lot - too much. That was never the case,” Shari Kenny said.

Karlee has had injections for a year and has grown to be almost five feet tall.

The Kenny family is hopeful that the new clinic will increase awareness about the treatment and the condition.

Despite her condition, Karlee is optimistic.

“Sometimes it's hard to live with but it doesn't stop me from doing things,” she said.

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