Progeria (pro-JEER-e-uh) is a progressive genetic disorder that causes children to age rapidly, beginning in their first two years of life.

Children with progeria, also known as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), generally appear normal at birth. By 12 months, signs and symptoms, such as slow growth and hair loss, begin to appear. The average life expectancy for a child with progeria is about 13, but some with the disease die younger and some live 20 years or longer.

Heart problems or strokes are the eventual cause of death in most children with progeria. There's no cure for this condition, but ongoing research shows some promise for treatment.

Apr. 23, 2011