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Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia


Overview :

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a form of adrenal insufficiency in which the enzyme that produces two important adrenal steroid hormones, cortisol and aldosterone, is deficient. Because cortisol production is impeded, the adrenal gland instead overproduces androgens (male steroid hormones). Females with CAH are born with an enlarged clitoris and normal internal reproductive tract structures. Males have normal genitals at birth. CAH causes abnormal growth for both sexes; patients will be tall as children and short as adults. Females develop male characteristics, and males experience premature sexual development.

In its most severe form, called salt-wasting CAH, a life-threatening adrenal crisis can occur if the disorder is untreated. Adrenal crisis can cause dehydration, shock, and death within 14 days of birth. There is also a mild form of CAH that occurs later in childhood or young adult life in which patients have partial enzyme deficiency.

CAH, a genetic disorder, is the most common adrenal gland disorder in infants and children, occurring in one in 10,000 total births worldwide. It affects both females and males. It is also called adrenogenital syndrome.




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