Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cretin, Cretinism, words of doubtful etymology, said to be derived from the French chretien, a Christian. A cretin is a person of feeble intellect and of peculiar and characteristic appearance. Growth is stunted, the skin coarse, the head large, and the bridge of the nose sunken, sometimes there is associated enlargement of the thyroid gland. Cretinism is common in the Valais, in other parts of Switzerland, and in Spain, Italy, and parts of Asia. In all these regions the condition occurs side by side with cases of goitre. Closely allied, too, to cretinism is the disease known as Mynoldema (q.v.). Virchow has formulated a theory that the pathology of the disease is essentially one of maldevelopment of the basal portion of the skull. On this hypothesis cretinism is present from birth. Others maintain that the cretin is not born a cretin but that the condition is acquired in childhood.