A Descriptive Analysis - Cretinism

Cretinism primarily refers to a health condition where an individual does not have the proper growth of his/her mental abilities. In such cases, the individual is likely to have retarded growth of both or either learning or body parts.

Notably, the cretinism symptoms are visible. They include stunted growth of the body parts. Furthermore, the symptoms also include loss in weight, minimal crying and mostly lack emotions. 

Herein, the topic is elaborately discussed below to help you with your NEET curriculum. This will help you in framing the quick answers for your NEET exam.

What is Cretinism?

With the above introduction, you might have got a fair idea of the disease by now. The cretinism meaning is derived from the French word ‘Chretien’. It means something similar to Christ. Herein, the disease is depicted as sinless, where people do not have advanced thinking capabilities, which prohibits them into committing anything sinful.

In simple words, with passing age, the mental age or mental advancements do not take place for a person with cretinism. Look at the image below.

As you can see in the above image, a person has multiple facial symptoms. All those are evident and prove that he is nothing but a regular individual of his age.

Causes of Cretinism

Cretinism is caused by the deficiency of Iodine in the body. This deficiency forms right when the baby is in the mother’s womb or even during the stage of infancy. Additionally, there is an inadequate activity of the thyroid hormone.

This insufficiency is caused as a result of the absence of the thyroid gland. In other instances, if the thyroid gland is unable to produce the thyroid hormone, cretinism may occur. This is called congenital cretinism. 

Otherwise, if there is an iodine deficiency in the diet of an infant, such a situation might also arise. This is called endemic cretinism. Both these situations have similar symptoms - swelling of tongue, skin, impaired growth, loss of hair, retarded mental growth, etc. 

Such a grave situation calls for an early diagnosis, which is likely to help reverse its effects. In some other instances, the damage can be minimised too. 

Ways to Treat Cretinism

Before moving on to treating cretinism, it is vital to diagnose the condition before. Besides, there is also a need to identify the reason behind such a situation as well. Once a proper diagnosis and analysis are made, there should be an apt way of treating the same.

As already mentioned in the above sections, the cretinism disease is classified based on its cause. Hence, its treatments are also based on those causes. So, in case there is an absence of the thyroid hormone, the same can be injected into the body to enable its functioning. 

This will restore the secretion of thyroid hormone in the body. Nevertheless, students should note here that in case symptoms like mental abnormalities have already developed, it is irreversible.  

Simply put, the diagnosis should be immediately after birth and followed by treatment, preferably within one or two weeks. If it extends beyond this timeline, there is a major risk of the hormone replacement therapy standing void.

This is where a proper diagnosis is called for. Read in the next section to find out some tried and tested ways for the same.

How to Diagnose Cretinism

As per cretinism definition, the condition is likely to be there during birth, so it is vital to monitor a new-born. Using a blood spot to find out the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) level is one of the popular options. This screening test called Guthrie test is generally conducted after 5 to 7 seven days after birth.

The test shows the presence or absence of primary hypothyroidism. It is a widely used method and is highly effective too. Besides, this method is also cost-effective and does not cost a considerable amount. Understandably, it is vital to diagnose an infant right after his/her birth, and consequently arrange for proper treatment as early as possible.

So, when you prepare for NEET, make sure to cover all the topics related to this disorder. Study the features and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for a holistic learning.

NEET requires students to have a clear understanding of all topics from their grassroots. So make sure when you study cretinism, not to miss out on any of its features and symptoms. Questions might be asked from any section it is thus advisable to be prepared at all levels.

Remember the cretinism symptoms specifically, although a few might seem similar to other disorders. Revising the fundamentals of this disease regularly will help you in digging deeper into the related concepts.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What do you mean by cretinism?

Cretinism is a medical condition where an individual has retarded mental and physical growth. It is generally due to the deficiency of iodine and leads to swelling of skin and tongue, loss of hair, etc.

2. What are the potential ways to treat cretinism?

Ans. The potential ways to treat cretinism is early diagnosis. In case an infant is diagnosed with this condition right after birth, a thyroid hormone replacement can help in reversing the ailment. In other cases, drugs like levothyroxine can also help in minimising the effects on older individuals.

3. What are the symptoms of cretinism?

Ans. Symptoms of cretinism include inflammation of the skin. Parts of the tongue also get swelled due to this. Additionally, there is a loss of hair, loss in weight, developing mental retardness, lethargy, fatigue, stunted growth, thickness in facial features, etc.

4. What are the types of cretinism?

Ans. Two types of cretinism are there which include congenital and endemic. The former represents a condition when the thyroid gland is absent, leading to insufficiency in production of thyroid hormone. The latter refers to a state where iodine is deficient in the body.