3 Famous Celebrities With Turner Syndrome

In this article, we will talk about some celebrities with Turner syndrome1. A rare genetic disorder like Turner syndrome didn’t come their way to achieve greatness.

What Is Turner Syndrome?

What is Turner Syndrome? (HealthSketch)

Turner syndrome is a chromosomal disorder (a type of genetic disorder) that is generally caused by the complete absence of one of the X- chromosomes (sex chromosomes) or due to the X- chromosome partially missing.

Turner syndrome is only possible in females (girls/women). It occurs in a small percentage of girls and is considered a rare disorder.

Usually, normal females have 46 chromosomes, including XX (sex chromosomes), but females with Turner syndrome have 45 chromosomes with XO (i.e., one of the X-chromosomes, sex chromosomes, is missing).

The majority of people are born with a set of two specific sex chromosomes. The Female (mother) has XX chromosomes present in the mother’s egg including all other cells, and the Male (father) has XY present in the father’s sperm including all other cells.

Each parent gives each girl one X chromosome, and Y chromosome material is passed down to sons by the father with one X chromosome from the mother. Hence normal girls have two X chromosomes.

Girls having Turner Syndrome have either one copy of the X chromosome absent or partly missing. Or also can say that they have one altered copy of the X chromosome which causes Turner syndrome. Researchers don’t yet understand why this happens.

Turner syndrome is a chromosomal disorder2 and is congenital (i.e., is present from birth) in females; hence cannot be prevented. However, early detection, say before birth (early in pregnancy), during childhood, or early adolescence can help with proper care.

In some cases, the diagnosis of Turner syndrome is delayed until they are in their adolescent or young adult years (as in the case of some celebrities with Turner syndrome) because the signs and symptoms are rather moderate.

Growth Hormone and Estrogen Replacement Therapies in Turner Syndrome

Though females, with Turner syndrome, need ongoing medical treatment and care from specialists in many areas. However, most women live stable and independent lives with proper treatments (a great example are celebrities with Turner syndrome).

Types Of Turner Syndrome

The problem with the X chromosome decides the type of Turner syndrome (TS) a person has:

  • Monosomy X

In this type of Turner syndrome, each cell has only one X chromosome instead of the normal two. It comes from the mother’s egg or the father’s sperm when randomly formed without an X chromosome. After fertilization, the baby’s cells also have this defect. About 45% of people with Turner syndrome have this type.

  • Mosaic Turner syndrome

This type of Turner syndrome is also called 45, X mosaicism. It happens early in pregnancy, randomly during cell division. Some of the infant’s cells have a pair of X chromosomes, and on the other hand, other cells only have one. This type of Turner syndrome makes up about 30% of Turner syndrome cases.

  • Inherited Turner syndrome

In rare cases, babies may have inherited Turner syndrome; that is, their parents (or parents) were born with it and passed it on to their child. This type of Turner syndrome usually happens because of a missing part of the X chromosome.

Turner syndrome is the most common sex chromosomal abnormality found in women. Worldwide, about 1 in every 2,500 female babies is born with Turner syndrome.

Signs And Symptoms Of Turner Syndrome

Some of the signs and symptoms of Turner syndrome include-

  • Slow physical growth (short stature/ short height).
  • Lack of secondary sexual characteristics (like breasts, widened hips, pubic hair).
  • Sterility (as ovaries are incompletely developed and hence lose their basic significance in infertility/ ovarian failure).
  • Broad chest having widely spaced nipples.
  • The high, narrow roof of the mouth (palate) (at birth).
  • Congenital heart disease.
  • Low hairline at the back of the head.
  • The neck is large or weblike.

Complications In Women With Turner Syndrome

Women with Turner Syndrome may face complications/ problems. Some of them are-

  • Certain heart defects and problems.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Affect the proper development of several body systems.
  • Many affected women have absent or decreased ovarian function and need hormone therapy to achieve their menstrual periods.
  • Infertility (unable to conceive) or common pregnancy complications.
  • Bone growth/ bone-related problems.

However, most of these signs and complexities of Turner syndrome can be taken care of with medical care from a doctor (as seen in the cases of celebrities with Turner syndrome).

Diagnosis Of Turner Syndrome

Doctors can diagnose Turner syndrome at any stage of a girl’s development. However, the disorder can be spotted before birth as well:

  • Maternal serum screening is done by drawing blood from the mother. It checks for signs or symptoms that may indicate an increased chance of a chromosomal problem with the fetus. This screening is more common in women who are pregnant at an older age.
  • Checking amniotic fluid or tissue from the placenta via amniocentesis and chorionic villous sampling helps in the same. Healthcare providers do a karyotype analysis on the fluid or tissue. The results could show whether the baby has Turner syndrome or not.
  • Ultrasound during pregnancy may show that the baby has some features of Turner syndrome. The healthcare provider may see heart problems or fluid around the neck via ultrasound.
Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels

Most of the time, children receive a diagnosis soon after birth or in early childhood because of their symptoms.

However, still, some women aren’t diagnosed with Turner syndrome until they reach adulthood. These women may go through puberty and get their periods just normally. But they often have an early ovarian failure (early menopause).

Treatment Of Turner Syndrome

Turner syndrome treatment3 often focuses on hormones (apart from care regarding other health problems that come with it). Treatments may include:

  • Human Growth Hormone

Injections of human growth hormone4 can be given to increase height. If treatment starts early enough, this administration can increase the final height of females with Turner syndrome by several inches.

  • Estrogen Therapy

Often, females with Turner syndrome need estrogen, a female hormone responsible for developing secondary sexual characteristics5. This type of hormone replacement therapy can help girls develop breasts and also begin menstruation.

It can also help their uterus grow to a typical normal size. Apart from these, estrogen replacement improves brain development, heart function, liver function, and skeletal health.

  • Cyclic Progestins

Progestins induce cyclic menstrual periods. These hormones are often added at age 11 or 12 if blood tests show a deficiency. Treatment is often started with very low dosages. And then, a gradual increase is done to simulate normal puberty.

3 Famous Celebrities With Turner Syndrome

Here is a list of 3 celebrities with Turner syndrome who didn’t let Turner syndrome come in their way and achieved great things:

1. Melissa Anne “Missy” Marlowe – American Gymnast

Melissa Anne Marlowe also known as Missy Marlowe is one of the celebrities with Turner syndrome. She was born in 1971 in Salt Lake City, United States. She is a former gymnast. Missy began gymnastics at a young age.

2018 Pac-12 Hall of Honor Inductee: Utah women's gymnastics' Missy Marlowe

Back in the 1988 Summer Olympics, she competed in six events. She also competed for the University of Utah gymnastics team. She proved her amazing skills by being a five-time NCAA champion and led Utah to two NCAA gymnastics championships during her career.

She competed in artistic gymnastics and became a part of the US team that competed in the Pan American Games in Indianapolis.

Missy Marlowe got the World Champion Gymnast title which is one of her greatest achievements. She was selected for the champion team. She even defeated Sabrina Mar.

Missy Marlowe was awarded Honda Sports Award as the “nation’s top female gymnast.” She was inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honours in 2018.

She has now retired and is a prominent figure as a spokesperson in the Turner syndrome society.

It is remarkable how she didn’t allow Turner syndrome to shake her will and achieved great things for herself. Hence, she is among the highly regarded celebrities with Turner Syndrome.

2. Dr. Catherine Ward Melver  (M.D. Turner syndrome)

Dr. Catherine Ward Melver is a medical genetics doctor and one of the celebrities with Turner syndrome. She was diagnosed with Turner syndrome at the age of 7.

Clinical Geneticist has Turner Syndrome

Dr. Catherine Ward Melver received her licenses from OH State Medical license, the American Board of Pediatrics, and the American Board of Medical Genetics.

She being one of the celebrities with Turner syndrome was also the former president of the Turner syndrome society of the United States. She adopted a girl child who also has Turner syndrome.

3. Janette Krankie – Scottish actress

On the list of celebrities with Turner syndrome is also the name of popular actress Janette Cranky. She is a famous stage actress and was born in 1947 in Scotland.

Panto Interview - The Krankies (Dick Whittington, Birmingham Hippodrome)

She is recognized for her work in The Krankies Club (1982), The Krankies Elektronik Komik (1985), and TV’s Funniest Music Moments (2008).

She got married in 1969 to Ian Tough. She didn’t let her dreams slip away just because of Turner syndrome and added her name to notable celebrities with Turner syndrome.

The above list of celebrities with Turner syndrome clearly indicates how anything is possible if someone is dedicated enough to their dreams. Let’s take some inspiration from these great celebrities with Turner syndrome.

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  1. Ranke, Michael B., and Paul Saenger. “Turner’s syndrome.” The Lancet 358.9278 (2001): 309-314. ↩︎
  2. Gillberg, Christopher. “Chromosomal disorders and autism.” Journal of autism and developmental disorders 28 (1998): 415-425. ↩︎
  3. Hjerrild, Britta E., Kristian Havmand Mortensen, and Claus H. Gravholt. “Turner syndrome and clinical treatment.” British Medical Bulletin 86.1 (2008): 77-93. ↩︎
  4. Corpas, Emiliano, S. Mitchell Harman, and Marc R. Blackman. “Human growth hormone and human aging.” Endocrine reviews 14.1 (1993): 20-39. ↩︎
  5. Witschi, E. M. I. L., and A. J. Marshall. “Sex and secondary sexual characters.” Biology and comparative physiology of birds 2 (1961): 115-168. ↩︎

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