Child Baldness

Reporter: Sophie Hull

Some kids aren't cancer patients, nor are they exercising a radical form of rebellion. Their baldness is the result of alopecia, baffling condition with no known cause or cure. Charlotte Adamson is just seven years old and wears a wig every day of her life --- it makes her feel like the other kids, how she felt before all her hair mysteriously fell out.

Former Rugby League great, Matt Adamson, couldn't bear to watch his confident, outgoing little girl withdraw into herself -- embarrassed and confused - so he decided to do something. He created a website and made links with other young sufferers who now meet regularly. "The most important thing is the awareness -- if people can just understand I guess that's the first small step -- getting understanding and letting people know what alopecia is, how it affects people's lives, that it's not life threatening and it's not contagious", Matt said.

Matt's campaign to raise awareness led him to top New Zealand model Anna Fitzpatrick. Beautiful with and without hair, she is a perfect role model for Charlotte. "I got it at seven -- exactly the same age -- and I know what she's going through. It's a bit daunting, obviously it changes your whole physical appearance. If you're used to looking at yourself in the mirror with hair and one day it's gone, then you've got to get used to this completely different person staring back at you. And children can be mean", Anna said.

Alopecia Areata can strike at any age. Over a period of days, weeks or months, sufferers can lose patches of hair from their scalp or every strand on their body. Typically, 1% - 2% of the population is affected, although there is evidence to suggest the condition is more common in Australia -- maybe as high as 6%, that's well over a million people. But it's almost impossible to tell with so many suffering in silence.

In the company of other bald and bold women, Charlotte will help raise money for children who need new wigs, at an upcoming charity ball. Seven's Joanna Griggs will be there, as will League legend Ray Hadley. A convincing wig, made from human hair and suctioned to the head, can cost up to $5,000 and children need new ones every couple of years as their heads grow.

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