How the Child’s Gender Matters for Families Having a Child With Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

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Abstract

Children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) are exposed to high levels of testosterone in utero often resulting in nontypical genitalia at birth for girls. The purpose of this analysis, which draws on data from a larger study, was to examine, based on the gender of the child, the family experiences of having a child with CAH. Sixteen parents were interviewed, and comparisons were made across all categories coded in the parents’ interviews to examine similarities and differences in the experiences of families based on the child’s gender. Families having a daughter with CAH experienced additional challenges when compared with families having a son. These include fear of stigmatization, challenging surgical decisions, and concerns regarding disclosure of the condition. Acknowledging this and creating support programs tailored for girls that address surgical procedures and complications resulting from being born with elevated testosterone are critical to promoting a healthy family and child response.

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