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Interpretive Handbook

Test 84113 :
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) Newborn Screening, Blood Spot

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a group of disorders caused by inherited defects in steroid biosynthesis, in particular, 21-hydroxylase deficiency (approximately 90% of cases), and 11-beta hydroxylase deficiency (approximately 5-8% of cases). The overall incidence of the classic form of 21-hydroxylase deficiency is approximately 1 in 16,000 worldwide. Individuals with CAH may present with life-threatening, salt-wasting crises in the newborn period and incorrect gender assignment of virilized females as a result of reduced glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids and elevated 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) and androgens. Hormone replacement therapy, when initiated early, enables a significant reduction in morbidity and mortality. Therefore, newborn screening for CAH is desirable and has been implemented in all 50 states.


Immunoassays are typically used to quantify 17-OHP as a marker for CAH. However, these immunoassays are hampered by cross-reactivity of the antibodies with other steroids, yielding a high rate of false-positive results. Tandem mass spectrometry allows for the simultaneous specific determination of 17-OHP and other steroids, such as androstenedione, cortisol, 11-deoxycortisol, and 21-deoxycortisol. Application of this technology to the determination of steroids in newborn screening blood spots significantly enhances the correct identification of patients with CAH and reduces the number of false-positive screening results when implemented as a second-tier analysis performed prior to reporting of initial newborn screen results.

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Second-tier testing of newborns with abnormal screening result for congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Findings of a 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) value >7.0 ng/mL in males or >4.0 ng/mL in females, and a high (17-OHP + androstenedione)/cortisol ratio (controls: < or =2.5) are supportive of the initial abnormal newborn screening result.


Findings of an 11-deoxycortisol value >10.0 ng/mL or 21-deoxycortisol >1.6 ng/mL with elevated 17-OHP further support the abnormal newborn screening result and increase the diagnostic specificity. Clinical and laboratory follow-up is strongly recommended.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

This is a screening test and, while it's positive predictive value is significantly higher than that of immunoassays (9.0% versus 0.5%), false-positive results can occur. Follow-up of abnormal results is necessary; perform OHPG / 17-Hydroxyprogesterone, Serum and DOC / 11-Deoxycortisol, Serum.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.


Males: <7.1 ng/mL

Females: <4.1 ng/mL



<3.1 ng/mL



>2.5 ng/mL



<10.1 ng/mL



<1.7 ng/mL




Note: Abnormal (17 OHP + Androstenedione)/Cortisol Ratio: >2.5 is only applicable when 17-OHP is elevated




Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Antal Z, Zhou P: Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: diagnosis, evaluation and management. Pediatr Rev 2009 Jul;30(7):e49-57

2. Minutti CZ, Lacey JM, Magera MJ, et al: Steroid profiling by tandem mass spectrometry improves the positive predictive value of newborn screening for congenital adrenal hyperplasia. J Clin Endo Met 2004;89:3687-3693

3. Turcu AF, Auchus RJ: The next 150 years of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2015 Sep;153:63-714. Witchel SF, Azziz R: Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Pediatri Adolesc Gynecol 2011;24:116-126