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Cretinism Information

Cretinism is a condition of severely stunted physical and mental growth due to untreated congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones. In cretinism, the base of the skull is foreshortened, the face is wide and short, the mandible underdeveloped, and the maxilla overdeveloped. This can be identified both clinically and with lateral cephalometric radiographs. Cretinism causes very serious retardation of physical and mental development; if the condition is left untreated, growth is stunted and the physical stature attained is that of a dwarf. Actual cretinism is a form of hypothyroidism, where lack of thyroid gland activity, often due to an iodine deficiency, stunts growth. Cretinism usually remains unrecognized until the child reaches some eighteen months or two years, when its lack of mental development and uncouth bodily form begin to attract attention. Occasionally the child appears to be normal in infancy, but the cretinoid condition develops later, any time up to puberty. Cretinism can develop later if there is a lack of iodine in the diet, or if the thyroid is diseased or surgically removed. Treatment with thyroid hormone promotes normal physical and mental development. It is essential that treatment be started during the first six weeks of life or irreversible changes may take place. Replacement therapy with thyroxine is the standard approach to treatment of hypothyroidism.

Causes of Cretinism

The common causes and risk factor's of Cretinism include the following:

  • A congenital deficiency in the secretion of the hormone thyroxine from the thyroid gland.
  • Defective or abnormal synthesis of thyroid hormones.
  • An insufficient amount of iodine in the diet of the child's mother during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Cretinism

Some sign and symptoms related to Cretinism are as follows:

  • Poor appetite and breathing difficulties.
  • Low body temperature.
  • Prolonged jaundice.
  • Short stature.
  • Dry and thickened skin.
  • Poor feeding.
  • Hoarse-sounding cry or voice.

Treatment of Cretinism

Here is list of the methods for treating Cretinism:

  • Replacement therapy with thyroxine is the standard approach to treatment of hypothyroidism.


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