A Single-Center, Observational Study of 607 Children and Young People Presenting With Differences of Sex Development (DSD)

J Endocr Soc. 2022 Oct 28;7(1):bvac165. doi: 10.1210/jendso/bvac165. eCollection 2022 Nov 17.


Context: Differences of sex development (DSD) represent a wide range of conditions presenting at different ages to various health professionals. Establishing a diagnosis, supporting the family, and developing a management plan are important.

Objective: We aimed to better understand the presentation and prevalence of pediatric DSD.

Methods: A retrospective, observational cohort study was undertaken in a single tertiary pediatric center of all children and young people (CYP) referred to a DSD multidisciplinary team over 25 years (1995-2019). In total, 607 CYP (520 regional referrals) were included. Data were analyzed for diagnosis, sex-assignment, age and mode of presentation, additional phenotypic features, mortality, and approximate point prevalence.

Results: Among the 3 major DSD categories, sex chromosome DSD was diagnosed in 11.2% (68/607) (most commonly 45,X/46,XY mosaicism), 46,XY DSD in 61.1% (371/607) (multiple diagnoses often with associated features), while 46,XX DSD occurred in 27.7% (168/607) (often 21-hydroxylase deficiency). Most children (80.1%) presented as neonates, usually with atypical genitalia, adrenal insufficiency, undescended testes or hernias. Those presenting later had diverse features. Rarely, the diagnosis was made antenatally (3.8%, n = 23) or following incidental karyotyping/family history (n = 14). Mortality was surprisingly high in 46,XY children, usually due to complex associated features (46,XY girls, 8.3%; 46,XY boys, 2.7%). The approximate point prevalence of neonatal referrals for investigation of DSD was 1 in 6347 births, and 1 in 5101 overall throughout childhood.

Conclusion: DSD represent a diverse range of conditions that can present at different ages. Pathways for expert diagnosis and management are important to optimize care.

Keywords: DSD; ambiguous genitalia; androgen insensitivity; congenital adrenal hyperplasia; hypospadias; sex development; testicular dysgenesis.