Serious / Life-Threatening Symptoms
Symptoms of CAH may be caused by:
- Too little cortisol
- Too little aldosterone
- Too much androgen
Cortisol helps the body react to stress and is important for controlling blood sugar and energy supplies. Aldosterone regulates salt and water balance. Low cortisol and aldosterone levels are the reason that newborns will become very sick without treatment. This is called an adrenal crisis. An adrenal crisis can occur at any age and can be life-threatening.
Signs of adrenal crisis include:
- Poor feeding or appetite
- Weak cry in infants
- Low blood pressure
- Weight loss
- Poor growth
Baby boys usually look normal at birth. They may show signs of CAH after the first few days of life.
Baby girls may have an enlarged clitoris and fused labia that look like a scrotum. (CAH does not affect the internal reproductive parts).
Some children with a mild form of CAH may not show any symptoms until they are older. This form is called “late onset CAH.”
In children and adults with CAH, the extra male hormones may cause the following symptoms:
- Rapid growth
- Advanced bone age
- Short height as adults due to rapid bone growth in childhood
- Early development of acne and body hair
- Excess body hair and/or acne in girls or women
- Menstrual and fertility difficulties in girls or women