Cretinism is mainly due to the non-existence of the thyroid gland in the body, which is located in the neck.
Even though a baby may be born without it, it may be very difficult to diagnose this deficiency till a month or so later.
The baby is rather lethargic, does not cry much, has a hoarse voice, does not suck vigorously and is constipated.
The skin may be dry. The face may seem rather puffy.
The first suspicion may arise when the baby does not smile or look at his mother at 4-6 weeks of age, and has a dull, sleepy appearance.
If untreated this condition results in mental retardation, a coarse face, a big tongue and a rather short and stumpy child. Early treatment with thyroid gland extract improves the child.
It should be remembered that within a short time of giving the drug the child will become active and his face normal, but that does not mean that the medicine should be stopped.
The replacement medicine has to be given all through life.