Cretinism – causes, side effects and treatments at NaturalPedia.com

Saturday, February 24, 2018 by

Cretinism, also known as congenital hypothyroidism (CH), is a condition where a newborn infant does not have a fully functional thyroid gland. While these terms are now used interchangeably, cretinism is medically defined to be an untreated case of CH, with or without a goiter.

The term is a derivative of the French word chrétien which means “one who is human despite deformities.”

In most cases of CH, thyroid dysgenesis — that is, abnormal development in the thyroid gland —  is pointed to be the cause of the condition. In total, 85 percent of CH cases can be traced back to thyroid dysgenesis, with the remaining 15 percent are caused by dyshormonogenesis (or dyshormogenetic goiter), a genetic defect in the thyroid hormones.

The thyroid gland is responsible for hormones that regulate growth, brain development, and metabolism. This is because of hormones that it secretes — namely thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). CH affects these two hormones, resulting in its decreased production.

While many countries, including the U.S., regularly test newborns for CH as part of newborn screening procedures, there have been reported cases in central Africa, where iodine deficiency is prevalent, as well as the Middle East.

CH is “preventable,” meaning that it can be addressed if it was diagnosed early. This prevents severe mental retardation and other complications that appear if CH is not treated immediately after diagnosis.

Known risk factors and symptoms of cretinism

A lot of factors cause cretinism in newborns. These could include:

  • A missing or poorly developed thyroid gland
  • Thyroid hormones that are poorly formed
  • A lack of iodine during pregnancy
  • Medications that were taken by the mother during pregnancy

Newborn infants that may have CH might display the following symptoms:

  • Decreased activity
  • A large anterior fontanelle (also known as the “soft spot” at the top of the head)
  • Poor feeding habits and weight gain
  • Small stature and poor growth
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and sclera)
  • Decreased stooling and constipation
  • A hoarse cry

A child with a severe case of CH may appear dull and puffy, as well as have macroglossia, or an abnormally large tongue.

Body systems affected by cretinism

Cretinism primarily affects the thyroid gland. However, its complications can hit the development of the brain and the central nervous system.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent or relieve cretinism

Having a diet that’s rich in iodine is necessary, especially for pregnant women to prevent cretinism. Foods such as seaweed, shellfish, and ocean fish can help increase iodine levels in the body. Moreover, dairy products and eggs are also good sources of iodine.

Treatment and management options for cretinism

Most countries screen newborns for CH and other conditions after they are born, making its early diagnosis — one of the key factors in preventing mental retardation — entirely possible. Newborns treated within the first month can develop normal intelligence.

When a person has been diagnosed with CH, thyroid hormone replacement is the normal treatment route undertaken to address this. Currently, only levothyroxine is used for treatment, with the pills crushed and dissolved in water or breastmilk before it is given to infants.

Where to learn more

Summary

Cretinism, also known as congenital hypothyroidism (CH), is a condition where a newborn infant does not have a fully functional thyroid gland. Thyroid dysgenesis is pointed to be the leading cause of the disease, as well as dyshormonogenesis.

While many countries, including the U.S., regularly test newborns for CH as part of newborn screening procedures, there have been reported cases in central Africa, where iodine deficiency is prevalent, as well as the Middle East.

CH is “preventable,” meaning that it can be addressed if it was diagnosed early. Having a diet that’s rich in iodine is also necessary, especially for pregnant women to prevent cretinism.

Sources include:

eMedicine.Medscape.com 1

eMedicine.Medscape.com 2

NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov 1

NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov 2

MedLinePlus.gov

EarthClinic.com



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