No evidence of an increase in early infant mortality from congenital adrenal hyperplasia in the absence of screening

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Objective: Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is not currently included in the UK newborn screening programme. We investigated the hypothesis that, owing to non-specificity of symptoms, a proportion of males affected by salt-wasting (SW) CAH have died in infancy without being diagnosed. Design: Stored newborn screening blood spot samples were analysed for 17α-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) in the following groups: Infants born in the North West of England, 1994 to 2006, who had died by 6 months age; (n=1198), a neonatal reference group (full-term n=100; preterm n=100) and a CAH positive control group. A newborn blood spot sample collected before diagnosis was available in 29/61 CAH patients recruited. SW CAH was present in 18/29 patients (16 males and 2 females). Samples from the deceased group with elevated 17-OHP were analysed for 8 common mutations in the 21-hydroxylase gene (CYP21A2). Setting: North West of England. Results: Grouped by gestational age, mean (maximum) blood spot 17-OHP in nmol/L was as follows. Deceased full-term n=279, 6 (107); deceased premature n=365, 28 (251); deceased unknown gestational age n=553, 13 (>394). In the SW positive control group, the lowest level of 17-OHP was 179 nmol/L and 14 had levels greater than the highest standard (>268 to >420 nmol/ L). All samples from the deceased group with 17-OHP results >179 nmol/L (n=6) and a further 13 samples underwent mutation analysis. No mutations were identified. Conclusions: Our findings do not support the hypothesis that, in our unscreened population, males affected by SW CAH are dying prior to diagnosis.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-164
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014