Context: Treatment of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) in childhood focuses on growth and development and adult final height (FH) is a measure of effective treatment. We hypothesized that shorter adults will have more severe underlying disease and worse health outcomes.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional analysis of 199 adults with CAH. FH and quality of life were expressed as z-scores adjusted for midparental target height or UK population height.
Results: FH correlated inversely with age (men, r = -0.38; women, r = -0.26, P < .01). Men and women had z-scores adjusted for midparental target height of -2 and -1, respectively, and both groups had UK population height z-scores of -1 below the UK population (P < .01). In women, FH was shorter in non-salt-wasting than salt-wasting classic CAH (P < .05) and in moderately affected genotype group B women than either more severely affected groups null and A (P < .01) or the mildest group C (P < .001). Short stature and a higher prevalence of hypertension were observed in classic CAH patients diagnosed late (after 1 y) compared with those diagnosed early and in women treated with glucocorticoid only compared with those treated with both glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids (P < .05). FH did not associate with insulin sensitivity, lipid profile, adiposity, or quality of life.
Conclusions: Adult CAH patients remain short, although height prognosis has improved over time. The shortest adults are those diagnosed late with moderate severity CAH and are at increased risk of adult hypertension; we hypothesize that these patients are exposed in childhood to high androgens and/or excessive glucocorticoids with potential programming of hypertension. Another possibility is inadequate mineralocorticoid treatment early in life in the late-diagnosed patient group. Prospective studies are now required to examine these hypotheses.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00749593.