Cretinism: Symptoms and Treatment

Cretinism is a disease of the endocrine system, which begins to progress as a result of thyroid dysfunction. Its main manifestation in humans is a delay in mental, intellectual and physical development. The first signs of cretinism begin to appear even in childhood. As a rule, they remain unchanged throughout life.

In the case of development of pathology in adults, first of all, their appearance looks striking. Cretinism in children manifests itself in the child’s inability to learn anything, he does not speak well or speaks at all, is lazy and apathetic. If the treatment is not started in time, then the symptomology of the pathology will quickly increase. Such people without adequate therapy live no more than 40 years. It is also worth noting that treatment is necessary to avoid the progression of dangerous complications.


There are many reasons for the development of pathology. Scientists found that children’s cretinism often develops, if in the mother’s body during childbearing, a lack of iodine was diagnosed. Also, in medicine, cases are known that women with endemic goiter gave birth to children with thyroid dysfunction.

Also contributing to the progression of the disease can be such reasons:

  • euthyroidism (complete absence of thyroid gland)
  • iodine deficiency in products that the mother used during the gestation period
  • the endemic goiter in the mother during pregnancy
  • congenital anomaly — inability of the body to transfer iodine into an active form
  • Thyroid hypoplasia
  • Ectopic gland
  • congenital abnormalities of the thyroid gland
  • hereditary factor (common cause of disease progression)
  • gland atrophy
  • often the cause of the progression of cretinism in a child becomes the reception of a mother during pregnancy thyreostatic drugs, as well as preparations of radioactive iodine
  • a deficiency of hormones that synthesize the thyroid gland
  • living in an area where there is an iodine deficiency;
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • postoperative complications;
  • marriage between people who are in close family ties


In medicine, clinicians use the following classification of cretinism:

  1. Atithoid form. The main cause of its progression is aplasia of the thyroid gland. It can also develop as a result of the complete destruction of this organ in the child. Treatment of this form of ailment should be started immediately after the birth of the baby;
  2. Geographic form (spatial or topographical cretinism). It occurs quite often. Topographical cretinism manifests itself in the child’s inability to orientate in an unfamiliar area. The development of pathology leads to functional features of the brain. Some experts argue that topographical cretinism is not a disease, but a psychological feature, which in most cases is more characteristic of the beautiful half of humanity. Chronic lack of sleep in a person can significantly exacerbate the symptoms of topographical cretinism, because of this there is a violation of cerebral circulation and deterioration of visual memory.
  3. endemic cretinism. The main reason for the development of this form of ailment is iodine deficiency in the human body. Its progression leads to deafness, dumbness, and also to motor and spastic dysfunction in the human body. Against this background, complications may develop-dysfunction of the cardiovascular system, delay in physical development, chronic mental retardation.


Developing symptoms may differ slightly depending on which form of the ailment the child has developed. But the main clinical picture is represented by such symptoms:

  • growth retardation (this symptom is manifested in any form of pathology)
  • untimely teething;
  • lag in physical and mental development
  • mental development disorder
  • the fontanel on the cranium is not overgrown for a long time;
  • the skin is rough and thick;
  • rough facial features
  • the language is large. Often, it does not even fit in the human mouth;
  • Poor appetite
  • hair is brittle and dry;
  • disproportionate parts of the body
  • secondary sexual characteristics are poorly developed
  • A low line of hair
  • small growth
  • with cretinism in children there is a violation of the development of intelligence, reduced activity, jaundice is possible
  • Blood pressure lowered
  • bloating
  • Such a symptom as myxedema edema is manifested only in the case of the development of myxedema cretinism


When a child is born, cretinism is diagnosed by characteristic symptoms. In other clinical situations, the diagnosis of pathology is handled by an endocrinologist. For an accurate diagnosis, the following examinations are necessary: ​​

  1. radiography
  2. If a child is suspected of a disease, it is necessary to test for congenital malformations and metabolic disorders on the 3rd day of his life
  3. blood test
  4. Thyroid ultrasound;
  5. blood test for determining thyroid hormone levels
  6. the relationship between the thyroid gland and globulin is evaluated.


Treatment of the disease should begin immediately after the diagnosis and confirmation of the diagnosis. An adequate treatment plan is a guarantee of a normal and long life for a patient who has been diagnosed with cretinism.

Therapy is prescribed by an endocrinologist based on the results of the examination. Treatment includes the use of hormonal drugs, the main task of which is to compensate for the deficiency of thyroid-stimulating hormones in the body. Such therapy will be necessary throughout life to avoid the progression of disturbances in physical, mental and mental development.


Prevention of cretinism is based on the following activities:

  • Eating during pregnancy should be balanced. A sufficient amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients must be supplied to the body of a pregnant woman
  • it is necessary to timely prevent or treat thyroid diseases;
  • during pregnancy, it is recommended to take drugs, the active ingredient of which is iodine

  • prohibit closely related marriages.