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Free access

H L Storr, K I Alexandraki, L Martin, A M Isidori, G A Kaltsas, J P Monson, G M Besser, M Matson, J Evanson, F Afshar, I Sabin, M O Savage, and A B Grossman

Objective

There are few published comparisons between paediatric and adult-onset Cushing's disease (CD). We compare the epidemiology, diagnostic features and cure rate by transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) in these groups.

Design

Retrospective review of patient databases in a single university hospital centre.

Patients

Totally, 41 paediatric (mean age 12.3±3.5 years; range 5.7–17.8) and 183 adult (mean age 40±13 years; range 18.0–95.0) patients with CD were investigated.

Results

Paediatric CD was characterised by male (63%) and adult CD by a female predominance (79%, P<0.0001). There were small but significant differences in clinical presentation. Biochemical features of CD were comparable except the serum cortisol increase during a CRH test: mean change (105%, n=39) in paediatric and (54%, n=123) in adult subjects (P<0.0001). Macroadenomas were more common in adult (15%, 28/183) than in paediatric (2%, 1/41, P=0.04) CD. Corticotroph microadenomas were more easily visualised by pituitary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in adult (76%, 50/66) compared with paediatric (55%, 21/38, P=0.045) CD with poorer concordance of imaging with surgical findings in children (P=0.058). The incidence of ACTH lateralisation by bilateral simultaneous inferior petrosal sinus sampling was comparable in paediatric (76%, 25/33) and adult (79%, 46/58; P=0.95) patients with good surgical concordance in both (82% paediatric and 79% adult). Cure rates by TSS were comparable, with a paediatric cure rate of 69%.

Conclusion

Several features of paediatric CD are distinct: increased frequency of prepubertal CD in males, the different clinical presentation, the decreased presence of macroadenomas and the frequent absence of radiological evidence of an adenoma on MRI.

Free access

Carlo L Acerini, Robert C Tasker, Simonetta Bellone, Gianni Bona, Christopher J Thompson, and Martin O Savage

Pituitary dysfunction is now well recognised after traumatic brain injury (TBI) in adults; however, little except anecdotal evidence is known about this potential complication in childhood and adolescence. Histopathological evidence exists for both hypothalamic and pituitary damage, but few data specific to children have been published. We review the available paediatric data, which shows that after both mild and severe TBI, hypopituitarism may occur, with GH and gonadotrophin deficiencies appearing to be most common. Precocious puberty has also been documented. Road-traffic accidents, falls, sport and child abuse are the most common aetiological factors for paediatric TBI. There are no published data on the incidence or prevalence, neither within a population of children with TBI, of hypopituitarism, nor on its natural history or response to hormone replacement. We urge paediatric endocrinologists, in collaboration with adult endocrinologists, to perform formal prospective research studies in patients suffering from TBI to clarify these questions.

Free access

Helen L Storr and Martin O Savage

Cushing's disease (CD) is the commonest form of ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome and is a rare clinical diagnosis in paediatric and adolescent patients. CD is caused by an ACTH-secreting pituitary corticotroph adenoma and is associated with significant morbidity in children; therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are critical for optimal therapeutic outcome. This review highlights the key clinical and biochemical features of paediatric CD and appraises current practices in diagnosis and management. A close liaison with adult endocrinology colleagues, particularly, for interpretation of investigations and definition of therapeutic strategy is strongly advised.

Open access

Uta Neumann, Daniela Burau, Sarah Spielmann, Martin J Whitaker, Richard J Ross, Charlotte Kloft, and Oliver Blankenstein

Objectives

Due to the lack of paediatric-licensed formulations, children are often treated with individualized pharmacy-compounded adult medication. An international web-based survey about the types of medication in children with adrenal insufficiency (AI) revealed that the majority of paediatric physicians are using pharmacy-compounded medication to treat children with AI. Observations of loss of therapy control in children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia with compounded hydrocortisone capsules and regained control after prescribing a new hydrocortisone batch led to this ‘real world’ evaluation of pharmacy-compounded paediatric hydrocortisone capsules.

Methods

Capsule samples were collected randomly from volunteering parents of treated children suffering from congenital adrenal hyperplasia from all over Germany. Analysis of net mass and hydrocortisone content by high-performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet (HPLC-UV) detection method was performed based on the European Pharmacopeia.

Results

In a total of 61 batches that were sent, 5 batches could not be analysed because of missing dose information, insufficient number of capsules or were not possible to be evaluated. Fifty-six batches containing 1125 capsules were evaluated. 21.4% of the batches revealed insufficiency in uniformity of net mass or drug content and additional 3.6% failed because they did not contain the labelled drug.

Conclusions

Compounded medication is a possible cause of variation of steroid doses in children with adrenal insufficiency or congenital adrenal hyperplasia, putting these vulnerable patients at risk of poor disease control and adrenal crisis. These data may apply to other individualized compounded oral medication as well, emphasizing the need for development of licensed paediatric formulations approved by regulatory authorities.

Free access

Valérie Bernard, Bruno Donadille, Tiphaine Le Poulennec, Mariana Nedelcu, Laetitia Martinerie, and Sophie Christin-Maitre

Turner syndrome (TS), affecting 1/2000 to 1/2500 live born girls, is a chromosomal aberration with a total or partial loss of one of the X chromosomes. The diagnosis can be established from the intra-uterine life to adulthood. TS is a chronic disease with particular morbidity and mortality. The loss to follow-up rate, during transition, between children and adult units, remains a crucial issue. This review focusses on the adolescent and young adult patients with TS. The different goals of TS transition are presented as well as some of the tools available in order to improve this transition. The involvement of the patient’s family, advocacy groups and therapeutic educational programs are discussed. A specificity concerning TS transition, as compared to other chronic diseases, relies on the fact that patients with TS may present a peculiar neurocognitive profile. They are in general more anxious than the general population. Therefore, psychological support should be offered to optimize transition. Data illustrating the beneficial impact of an organised transition of TS, from paediatric units to multidisciplinary adult care systems, within the same reference centre are presented. Further studies are required to evaluate the mid-to-long-term transition of paediatric patients with TS referred to adult units.

Free access

C J Peters, H L Storr, A B Grossman, and M O Savage

Background: Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) was identified by Vale and co-workers in 1981 and has since been used extensively in the diagnosis of ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome (CS). It was hoped that the CRH test would discriminate between pituitary and ectopic ACTH secretion. In adults, a rise from basal to peak plasma cortisol of ≥20% and ACTH of ≥50% is consistent with Cushing’s disease (CD).

Methods: Twenty-seven paediatric patients, with CD (mean age ± s.d. 13.1 ± 3.2; range 6.4–17.8 years) were investigated in our centre between 1982 and 2005.

Results: During the CRH test, all patients showed an increase in cortisol of >20% (range 106–554%). In one patient with ectopic ACTH syndrome, there was no increase in cortisol after CRH. In six paediatric patients with CS due to primary adrenal hyperplasia, no patient showed an increase in cortisol after CRH of >1%.

Conclusions: A further suggested use of CRH is to increase the sensitivity of the central to peripheral and interpetrosal ratios of ACTH during inferior petrosal sinus catheterisation (IPSS). Bilateral IPSS with human CRH (hCRH) has been performed in our unit in 21 children with CD, as part of the preoperative preparation prior to transsphenoidal surgery (TSS). Its principal role was to identify the site of the microadenoma. Sixteen of 21 patients (76%) who underwent IPSS with hCRH were cured following TSS. In our view, the CRH test is of value during IPSS by clarifying the position of the microadenoma and in this way contributed to the overall outcome of TSS in paediatric patients with CD.

Free access

P E Clayton, R C Cuneo, A Juul, J P Monson, S M Shalet, and M Tauber

The European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology held a consensus workshop in Manchester, UK in December 2003 to discuss issues relating to the care of GH-treated patients in the transition from paediatric to adult life. Clinicians experienced in the care of paediatric and adult patients on GH treatment, from a wide range of countries, as well as medical representatives from the pharmaceutical manufacturers of GH participated.

Free access

MO Savage, WM Drake, PV Carroll, and JP Monson

While the benefits of growth hormone (GH) therapy in adult hypopituitary patients with GH deficiency (GHD) are established, the role of continued GH therapy after final height in adolescent GH-deficient patients remains unclear. Preliminary data suggest that cessation of GH on completion of linear growth may be associated with impairment of somatic development and adverse changes in body composition. For the present time, the decision whether to continue GH treatment in adolescent patients with GHD is best made on an individual basis. For such patients, continuity of care is crucial. Children and adults with GHD are usually managed by physicians in separate departments, who may focus on different aspects of treatment and care. Close collaboration between paediatric and adult physicians is essential to ensure smooth transition and to minimize the drop-out rate from follow-up. Given the previous period of treatment during childhood, paediatric physicians should be best placed to discuss the potential benefits of continuing GH therapy and instigate retesting of GH secretion. Many children with isolated idiopathic GHD will produce normal GH responses if retested at adult height. Patients with multiple pituitary hormone deficits are more likely to have ongoing GHD, as are patients who have received CNS irradiation. Quality of life does not appear to be decreased in adolescents with GHD who stop treatment, so achievement of satisfactory bone mass is a major determinant of the decision whether to continue therapy.

Free access

Ann M Maguire, Geoffrey R Ambler, Bin Moore, Kay Waite, Mark McLean, and Christopher T Cowell

Objective: The aim of glucocorticoid replacement therapy in ACTH-deficient patients is to mimic the normal diurnal variation of cortisol. However, current hydrocortisone (HC) replacement results in prolonged episodes of hypocortisolaemia and supraphysiological peaks. Plasma cortisol profiles are an accurate yet labour-intensive method of assessing HC replacement. Salivary and bloodspot cortisol sampling methods are less invasive and may be useful tools for assessing glucocorticoid replacement, particularly in children. Therefore, we aimed to define normal salivary and bloodspot cortisol levels in children and their correlations with the gold standard (plasma cortisol).

Design: Cross-sectional study in a paediatric teaching hospital.

Methods: Plasma, saliva and bloodspot cortisol profiles were performed on 30 ACTH-deficient children and 22 healthy siblings.

Results: In ACTH-deficient patients taking oral HC, the bloodspot–plasma correlation (ρ = 0.90) was stronger than the salivary–plasma correlation (ρ = 0.49). Using target ranges for salivary and bloodspot cortisol levels based on normal data from control subjects, the less invasive sampling methods had low rates of agreement with plasma cortisol target ranges (saliva 65% and bloodspot 75%). Using the plasma–bloodspot correlation regression equation to convert bloodspot to calculated plasma cortisol, there was a high concordance between calculated and actual measured plasma cortisol (88%).

Conclusion: Bloodspot cortisol sampling is a feasible and accurate method for monitoring oral HC replacement in paediatric patients without necessitating hospital admission, but salivary sampling is not useful.

Free access

Vrinda Saraff and Wolfgang Högler

Osteoporosis in children can be primary or secondary due to chronic disease. Awareness among paediatricians is vital to identify patients at risk of developing osteoporosis. Previous fractures and backaches are clinical predictors, and low cortical thickness and low bone density are radiological predictors of fractures. Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is a rare disease and should be managed in tertiary paediatric units with the necessary multidisciplinary expertise. Modern OI management focuses on functional outcomes rather than just improving bone mineral density. While therapy for OI has improved tremendously over the last few decades, this chronic genetic condition has some unpreventable, poorly treatable and disabling complications. In children at risk of secondary osteoporosis, a high degree of suspicion needs to be exercised. In affected children, further weakening of bone should be avoided by minimising exposure to osteotoxic medication and optimising nutrition including calcium and vitamin D. Early intervention is paramount. However, it is important to identify patient groups in whom spontaneous vertebral reshaping and resolution of symptoms occur to avoid unnecessary treatment. Bisphosphonate therapy remains the pharmacological treatment of choice in both primary and secondary osteoporosis in children, despite limited evidence for its use in the latter. The duration and intensity of treatment remain a concern for long-term safety. Various new potent antiresorptive agents are being studied, but more urgently required are studies using anabolic medications that stimulate bone formation. More research is required to bridge the gaps in the evidence for management of paediatric osteoporosis.