Androgenetic alopecia in the paediatric population: a retrospective review of 57 patients

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Abstract

Background

Hair loss is an unwelcome event at any age, but it can be particularly distressing for adolescents and their families. While androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is the most common form of hair loss in adults, little is known about its prevalence, clinical features and response to treatments in the paediatric population.

Objectives

To better characterize the causes of alopecia in a paediatric population.

Methods

We performed a retrospective chart review to identify all patients with hair loss seen in an academic paediatric dermatology practice at New York University over a 12-year period to better characterize the causes of alopecia in this population. We review the clinical and histological features, natural progression and associated laboratory abnormalities of AGA in 57 paediatric patients.

Results

AGA was identified as the most frequent cause of hair loss in adolescents and the second most common diagnosis overall. The male to female ratio was 2:1 and the average age at initial presentation with AGA was 14·8 years. Adolescent girls had diffuse thinning or thinning at the crown, and boys frequently presented with female pattern hair loss. When biopsies were performed, perifollicular inflammation was a common finding. A family history of AGA was reported in 83% of patients. Laboratory evaluation for androgens revealed polycystic ovarian syndrome in three girls and late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia in one boy.

Conclusions

AGA is the most common form of hair loss in adolescents, and can be the presenting sign of an underlying endocrine disorder. An accurate and timely diagnosis is essential for appropriate medical and psychosocial intervention when warranted.

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