Long-term health consequences of congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
Pofi R., Ji X., Krone NP., Tomlinson JW.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) caused by 21-hydroxylase deficiency accounts for 95% of all CAH cases and is one of the most common inborn metabolic conditions. The introduction of life-saving glucocorticoid replacement therapy 70 years ago has changed the perception of CAH from a paediatric disorder into a lifelong, chronic condition affecting patients of all age groups. Alongside health problems that can develop during the time of paediatric care, there is an emerging body of evidence suggesting an increased risk of developing co-morbidities during adult life in patients with CAH. The mechanisms that drive the negative long-term outcomes associated with CAH are complex and involve supraphysiological replacement therapies (glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids), excess adrenal androgens both in the intrauterine and postnatal life, elevated steroid precursors and adrenocorticotropic hormone levels. Alongside a review of mortality outcome, we discuss issues that need to be addressed when caring for the CAH patient including female and male fertility, cardio-metabolic morbidity, bone health and other important long-term outcomes of CAH.