PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The “joy gene,” a genetic condition that makes people too friendly and trusting, is also causing some other dangerous medical problems.
Rose Murphy-Jones, 6, is happy to chat with strangers, but her outgoing, loving personality is the hallmark of a genetic condition called “Williams Syndrome.”
“The initial diagnosis is completely devastating because there are very serious cardiovascular issues,” said Rose’s mom, Melissa Murphy.
Rose’s mom also learned that children with the syndrome also have a variety of other medical and cognitive problems.
“It’s often misdiagnosed because a lot of the features are subtle and sometimes people don’t put all the pieces of the jigsaw together,” said Dr. Paige Kaplan, with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“I saw how many different specialists were needed to take care of these children,” said Kaplan
And children with the syndrome also have similar facial features, like rose, an upturned nose, puffy eyes, a small chin and that charming personality trait.
“Children who have Williams Syndrome tend to be incredibly loving incredibly friendly and just wonderful to be around,” said Dr. Sunmiti Cuddapah, with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Within seconds of meeting Rose, she holds Stephanie Stahl’s hand, but the unfortunate reality is being this outgoing personality can be dangerous for children and people with Williams Syndrome.
“Rose has so much empathy and positivity and hope, that it’s really been a life changing experience for me. But it’s a double edged sword in a lot of ways,” said Melissa. “They’re very prone to sexual abuse to all different kinds of being taken advantage of.”
Rose’s parents have lots of talks with her about stranger dangers and she sees 10 specialists.
For now she’s a happy proud big sister, but her future is unclear
Williams Syndrome is very rare, aside from all the clinical symptoms. It can be confirmed with genetic testing.
Rose’s family is working to raise awareness and money for research, hoping to help other children like rose.
To learn more about Williams Syndrome, CLICK HERE.