Updated: 08:28 EST, 21 July 2008>
Every time Josh Cullip and Hollie Carter blow out candles on their birthday cakes, their mothers fear it will be the last time.
For the children, who suffer from the junior form of senile dementia, are unlikely to reach adulthood.
Little Josh and three-year-old Hollie are among only 500 children in the world suffering from the incurable illness.
Helen and Hollie Carter with Jodie and Josh Cullip. Both children are victims of juvenile dementia - two of only 500 sufferers in the world. Coincidentally they only live a few miles apart.
Tragically, they are expected to die at any time in the next 10 to 12 years.
However, their tormented parents are now drawing comfort from one another after suddenly discovering they live only a few miles apart in the same UK town.
And their respective children have since become inseparable.
Baby Josh, aged 20 months, and toddler Hollie laugh and play together like normal children, unaware of their ticking timebomb plight.
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The two families from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, first heard about each other through a support group.
Hollie's mum, Helen Carter, said that both children had been diagnosed with the junior version of senile dementia after suffering prolonged jaundice at birth.
'They were both taken to King's College Hospital in London after they were born, where the disease was discovered following tests,' she said.
'One of the first symptoms of this is liver disease,' she added.
Soon the children will take part in vital research in America in the hope of providing a lifeline to future generations of Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) victims - the official name for juvenile dementia.
Selfless mothers Helen and Jodie want their offspring to leave a lasting legacy so their short lives won't have been wasted.
They are preparing themselves for the slow nightmare of watching their little ones develop the on-set of the illness.
Firstly, they will start to become clumsy, falling over and their memories will start to fade.
This will be followed by their sudden inability to walk, talk or feed themselves.
And, tragically, when the time comes for them to die, they are unlikely to even recognise their parents.
While the women are powerless to halt the progression of the illness, they are planning to take them to the National Institutes (corr) of Health in Maryland for trials.
Hollie's mother, Helen, aged 32 years, who is married to 39-year-old Pete, said: 'We are trying to raise funds for the trip because we have to do everything possible while there's still a flicker of hope.
Toddlers Josh Cullip (left) and Hollie Carter are tragically not expected to live beyond their 12th birthdays
Jodie's always phoning me or calling around - it's good to have the support of someone like her who knows about the struggle of trying to stay positive while living in such constant fear.
'We went to the annual NPC conference last month where we met other young sufferers and sadly saw first hand how Hollie and Josh will end up.
'It's no good us looking back in a few years' time, when they could be in wheelchairs unable to talk and wondering if we could have done more.
'We realise we are sitting on a timebomb, of course, but we'll never give up hope of a cure.' Fellow mother Jodie, aged 21 years, said: 'Josh and Hollie have formed a loving bond. They toddle around holding hands and enjoy getting into mischief.
'When they took their first steps and uttered their first words, it was a special moment, but equally a bitter-sweet one because we realise they'll soon lose their abilities to function normally.
'It could happen in six weeks or six years - we have no idea.
'I'm scared to enrol Josh at playschool because I desperately fear the day his teacher will come to me and say he's not keeping up with the other kids.' The disease is hereditary but Josh and Hollie's parents had no way of knowing that all four were carrying the faulty gene found in only one-in-60,000 people.
When Helen fell pregnant, she was unaware she had a 25 per cent chance of giving birth to a child with the illness, which is triggered by chloresterol and fatty acids building up and attacking the brain.
This explains why Hollie's older brother is perfectly healthy.
Toni Mathieson (both corr), national development manager of the Niemann-Pick Disease Group (UK), said: 'Living with this disease is a roller-coaster ride. It's a ticking timebomb and you never know when it could go off.
'Every fall and minor illness will have Helen and Jodie thinking, 'Is this it?'. But it is a blessing that they both live so close and support each other.' To back the nippers in their journey to America, or for more information, visit hopeforhollie.co.uk
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1036915/Best-friends-Parents-comforted-toddlers-super-rare-dementia-town-inseparable.html1278