Emotional and behavioral adjustment in 4 to 11-year-old boys and girls with classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia and unaffected siblings.


It has been suggested that atypical hormone environments during early development may contribute to subsequent development of psychopathology. Also, it has been suggested that individuals with the autosomal recessive genetic variant, classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), might be at increased risk of psychopathology. The present study examined emotional and behavioral adjustment in young children with CAH and their unaffected siblings in the United Kingdom. The parent-reported version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was employed to assess adjustment in children aged 4 to 11 years. There were 38 boys with CAH, 43 girls with CAH, 23 unaffected brothers, and 31 unaffected sisters. No differences in emotional or behavioral problems were found between boys or girls with CAH and unaffected same-sex siblings. In addition, affected and unaffected boys in the current sample generally did not differ from boys in the general population. However, compared with girls in the general population, girls with CAH had more difficulties related to conduct problems, hyperactivity/ inattention, and prosocial behavior, and unaffected sisters had more difficulties related to peer problems, conduct problems, and prosocial behavior. These findings suggest that both girls with CAH and unaffected sisters of girls or boys with CAH may be at increased risk of developing behavioral problems. Potential influences related to the early hormone environment, familial process, and social stigma are considered.