A TEENAGER, who hospital medics expected would live for three months following her birth, has celebrated top exam success.

Julie Rice, 18, of Barry, achieved the double with an A and A* in A-level performing arts; a C in the Welsh baccalaureate; and a double in beauty, and she will go to the Cardiff & Vale College, in Barry, to take a year-long childcare course.

The Pencoedtre High School head girl’s study success is all the more inspiring as she was diagnosed with Noonan syndrome following her birth.

Noonan syndrome is a genetic condition that can cause a wide range of distinctive features and health problems.

The most common features of Noonan syndrome are unusual facial features, such as a broad forehead, drooping eyelids and a wider-than-usual distance between the eyes.

Those with the condition are typically of short stature, restricted growth, and can have heart defects - congenital heart disease.

Around one in 1,000 to one in 2,500 children are born with Noonan syndrome and it affects both sexes and all ethnic groups equally.

Noonan syndrome is caused by a fault in one of several genes.

Julie wears a hearing aid and only grew at a rate of one inch a year.

After discovering her results, Julie said: “I am so shocked.

"I wasn’t expecting it.

"It was really hard work trying to get the coursework in and the exam was really hard.

“I want to thank the teachers.

“It’s thanks to them that I’ve got the grades that I have.”

Dad, Stephen Rice said: “I couldn’t be prouder.

“I’m over the moon.

“It’s lovely how well she’s done.

“We are really happy for her – she’s always smiling.”