- Congenital hypothyroidism (underactivity of the thyroid gland at birth) resulting in growth retardation, developmental delay and other abnormal features. Can be due to deficiency of iodine in the mother’s diet during pregnancy. The condition is detected today by newborn thyroid screening. The word “cretin” is said to have come from the Old French “chretien” meaning “Christian” because heretical Christians, to escape persecution, fled into iodine-deficient valleys in the Pyrenees in southwest France and had children with congenital hypothyroidism. However, the origin of the term “cretin” is conjectural and could come from “cretura” (creature) or ‘creta” (chalk, pale) or some other root.
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* * *cre·tin·ism -ən-.iz-əm n a usu. congenital abnormal condition marked by physical stunting and mental retardation and caused by severe thyroid deficiency called also infantile myxedema
* * *n.a syndrome of dwarfism, mental retardation, and coarseness of the skin and facial features due to lack of thyroid hormone from birth (congenital hypothyroidism).
* * *cre·tin·ism (kreґtin-iz-əm) a chronic condition due to congenital severe hypothyroidism; manifestations begin in late infancy and include arrested physical development (dwarfism), mental retardation, dystrophy of the bones and soft parts, and lowered basal metabolism.
Medical dictionary. 2011.