What is the prevalence of pediatric adrenal insufficiency (Addison disease)?

Updated: Dec 07, 2018
  • Author: Kimberly Tafuri, DO; Chief Editor: Sasigarn A Bowden, MD  more...
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Primary adrenal insufficiency (Addison disease) is uncommon in the United States. By comparison, iatrogenic central adrenal insufficiency is a more frequent cause of morbidity and mortality, although its exact incidence is unknown. Retrospective case review in one US urban center suggests that the prevalence of adrenal insufficiency in childhood is higher than previously suspected, approximately equivalent to that of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. [34] Adrenal insufficiency (Addison disease) secondary to congenital adrenal hyperplasia occurs in approximately 1 per 16,000 infants.

Willis and Vince collected data from Coventry County, Great Britain, where the prevalence of adrenal insufficiency (Addison disease) was similarly reported as 110 cases per million persons of all ages. [35] More than 90% of cases have been attributed to autoimmune disease. An Italian study provided statistics comparable to those observed in Great Britain: [36]  an estimated 117 cases per million persons. A study by Olafsson and Sigurjonsdottir estimated the prevalence of primary adrenal insufficiency in Iceland to be 22.1 per 100,000 population. [37]

Worldwide, the most common cause of adrenal insufficiency (Addison disease) is tuberculosis (TB), with a calculated incidence of this condition caused by TB at approximately 5-6 cases per million persons per year.

Although there does not appear to be a racial predilection, sex and age-related differences have been observed. Autoimmune adrenal insufficiency (Addison disease) is more common in female individuals than in male individuals and in adults than children, whereas adrenal insufficiency due to adrenoleukodystrophy is limited to male individuals, because it is X linked.

A form of congenital adrenal hypoplasia due to a defect in DAX1/NR0B1 is also X-linked and, therefore, is confined to males. Secondary forms of adrenal insufficiency (Addison disease) such as those due to a deficiency of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) or corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), or a defect in the ACTH receptor, are equally common among male and female individuals.

Congenital causes, such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, congenital adrenal hypoplasia, and defects in the ACTH receptor, most commonly become apparent in childhood.

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