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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Aug;89(8):3687-93.

Steroid profiling by tandem mass spectrometry improves the positive predictive value of newborn screening for congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is primarily caused by 21-hydroxylase deficiency and leads to an accumulation of 17-hydroxyprogesterone and reduced cortisol levels. Newborn screening for CAH is traditionally based on measuring 17-hydroxyprogesterone by different immunoassays. Despite attempts to adjust cutoff levels for birth weight, gestational age, and stress factors, the positive predictive value for CAH screening remains less than 1%. To improve this situation, we developed a method using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to measure 17-hydroxyprogesterone, androstenedione, and cortisol simultaneously in blood spots. A total of 1222 leftover blood spots from six different screening programs using different immunoassays (fluorescent immunoassay and ELISA) were reanalyzed in a blinded fashion by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Thirty-one samples were from babies with CAH, 190 had yielded false-positive results by immunoassay, and the remaining 1001 samples were from babies with normal screening results. Steroid profiling allowed for an elimination of 169 (89%) of the false-positive results and for an improvement of the positive predictive value from the reported 0.5 to 4.7%. Although this method is not suitable for mass screening due to the length of the analysis (12 min), it can be used as a second-tier test of blood spots with positive results for CAH by the conventional methods. This would prevent unnecessary blood draws, medical evaluations, and stress to families.

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