Rare condition gives toddler super strength

160_ap_hoekstra_070530.jpegROOSEVELT PARK, Mich. — Liam Hoekstra was hanging upside down by his feet when he performed an inverted sit-up, his shirt falling away to expose rippled abdominal muscles. It was a display of raw power one might expect to see from an Olympic gymnast.

Liam is 19 months old.

But this precocious, 22-pound boy with coffee-colored skin, curly hair and washboard abs is far from a typical toddler.

“He could do the iron cross when he was 5 months old,” said his adoptive mother, Dana Hoekstra of Roosevelt Park. She was referring to a difficult gymnastics move in which a male athlete suspends himself by his arms between two hanging rings, forming the shape of a cross.

Liam has a rare genetic condition called myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy, or muscle enlargement. The condition promotes above-normal growth of the skeletal muscles; it doesn’t affect the heart and has no known negative side effects, according to experts.

Liam has the kind of physical attributes that bodybuilders and other athletes dream about: 40 percent more muscle mass than normal, jaw-dropping strength, breathtaking quickness, a speedy metabolism and almost no body fat.

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