Cretinism is a condition characterized by physical deformity and learning difficulties , which can be caused by congenital thyroid deficiency. Cretinism is a condition of severely underdeveloped physical and mental development, because of untreated congenital deficiency of the thyroid hormone (congenital hypothyroidism) usually due to maternal hypothyroidism. Starting around 4-10 weeks into gestation the thyroid gland is formed, by 10-11 weeks the thyroid hormones are formed by the thyroid gland. Iodine is oxidised by the thyroid and changed into iodine. When there is an error is made in the metabolism of thyroid hormones cretinism happens.
Causes for cretinism:
A slight percentage of cretinism patients have inherited anomalous genes which cause the thyroid gland to produce less hormones.
•Absent or Miss placed thyroid gland
In most babies born with cretinism, the thyroid is either absent or underdeveloped.
In some cases the thyroid is found in another place in the body.
•Maternal Iodine levels
When the mother of the baby has an iodine deficiency throughout her pregnancy there will not be adequate iodine for the production of iodine hormones . The thyroid of the unborn child is also affected by too much iodine in pregnancy.
•Maternal Thyroid Condition & Medications
The mother of the unborn child has thyroid problems. Treatments that involve anti-thyroid glands also contribute to the incidence of centrism.
•Dysfunction of the pituitary gland/ Hypothalamus
Thyroid gland is not stimulated by the Pituitary gland , Hypothalamic cause of cretinism are ischemic damage, congenital defects and tumours.
Signs to look for:
• Fontanels : larger anterior fontanel
• Low hair line, dry brittle hair
• Face: looks dull, puffy, slow reactions
• Macroglossia : large tongue, thick and protruding.
• Protruding belly button
• oedema Eyelids, extremities, genitalia
• Hypotonia : Low muscle tone
• a low cry
• Difficulty breathing
• Cardiac problems
• Short stature /poor growth
• Poor weight gain.