Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia



Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a group of genetic conditions. These conditions affect the adrenal glands. These glands control how the body grows and develops. There are many types of CAH.


CAH is a genetic disorder. It is passed from the parents to the child.The symptoms of CAH are caused by problems in the adrenal glands. In CAH, the glands may have trouble making one or both of the following hormones:
  • Cortisol—helps the body respond to stress and infections
  • Aldosterone—helps the body maintain normal levels of sodium and potassium
The adrenal gland will work harder to try to produce more of the missing hormones. This can lead to an overproduction of another hormone called androgen. This hormone is present in boys and girls, but is responsible for the development of male features. Other adrenal hormones may affect how the body handles salt and water.
Adrenal Glands
factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

A family history of CAH will increase your child's chance of having the condition. People can carry the gene for CAH and not have the disorder. In this case, both parents must have the CAH gene for the child to have a 25% chance of getting CAH.


Symptoms can vary with the different types of CAH and the gender of the child. General symptoms include:
  • Altered or unexpected features in newborn girls such as:
    • Unusual appearance of genitalia
    • Parts of the external genitalia may resemble a penis
  • Early signs of puberty in boys as young as 2-3 years old such as:
    • Becoming very muscular
    • Experiencing penis growth
    • Developing pubic hair
    • Having a deepening voice
  • Excessive facial and/or body hair
  • Fast growth compared to peers of the same age—most children will stop growing sooner than their peers and are often relatively short as adults
  • Difficulty fighting respiratory infections and illnesses
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Severe acne
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Bluish skin color
  • Confusion

leave comments
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals

Parent-Adolescent Communication May Result In Safer Sex
December 2015

Improving parent-adolescent sexual communication has been noted as one factor that could help to encourage adolescents to practice safer sex behavior. This study found that sexual communication with parents plays a small protective role in safer sex behavior among adolescents.

dot separator
previous editions

Celiac Disease May Increase the Risk of Bone Fractures
November 2015

Music May Improve Sleep Quality in Adults with Insomnia
October 2015

CPAP May Help Older Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
September 2015

dashed separator


Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »