Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (or the adreno-genital syndrome) is a condition affecting the adrenal glands which sit on top of each kidney, in which they are over stimulated to produce abnormal steroids in the body that affect sexual development. The condition is familial (it runs in families), but both parents must be carriers for the condition to be present.
In girls the clitoris becomes enlarged, high blood pressure occurs and at puberty the breasts are very small, pubic hair pattern is masculine, hair may develop excessively on the body and female characteristics are reduced. A rare form causes excessive development of male characteristics in boys. The diagnosis is confirmed by specific blood and genetic tests.
Surgical correction of abnormal genitalia can be performed, and medication is given to correct hormonal imbalances. Infertility and confused gender assignment can occur if treated late, but there are good results if treated very early. Patients have a relatively normal life expectancy.