A study of four successive siblings, age 9, 12, 14 and 16 years with cretinism associated with congenitial central hypothyroidism (central cretinism), born to a mother in the endemic goitre region of the Jos Plateau, Nigeria, is presented. Biochemically, the defects were characterized by abnormally low basal thyroxine, triiodothyronine and thyroid stimulating hormone, as well as refractory TSH response to thyrotrophin releasing hormone and gross hyperlipidaemia. Clinically, the intellectual, physical and neurological impairment varied from moderate in the youngest to very severe in the oldest. Contrasting clinical pictures of cretinism, which appeared related to age and previous treatment were found with a spectrum ranging from predominantly myxoedematous in the youngest to predominantly neurological in the 16 year old male. Response to adequate treatment was dramatic, with restoration of severe gait disturbance occurring almost completely, but the imprints of thyroid hormone deficiency on mental defects and intellectual performance remained almost unaltered. The parents and two older sisters were normal with normal thyroid function.
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