Newborn screening (NBS) for the classic forms of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is mandated in all states in the United States. Compared with other NBS disorders, the false-positive rate (FPR) of CAH screening remains high and has not been significantly improved by adjusting 17α-hydroxyprogesterone cutoff values for birth weight and/or gestational age. Minnesota was the first state to initiate, and only 1 of 4 states currently performing, second-tier steroid profiling for CAH. False-negative rates (FNRs) for CAH are not well known.


This is a population-based study of all Minnesota infants (769 834) born 1999–2009, grouped by screening protocol (one-tier with repeat screen, January 1999 to May 2004; two-tier with second-tier steroid profiling, June 2004 to December 2009). FPR, FNR, and positive predictive value (PPV) were calculated per infant, rather than per sample, and compared between protocols.


Overall, 15 false-negatives (4 salt-wasting, 11 simple-virilizing) and 45 true-positives were identified from 1999 to 2009. With two-tier screening, FNR was 32%, FPR increased to 0.065%, and PPV decreased to 8%, but these changes were not statistically significant. Second-tier steroid profiling obviated repeat screens of borderline results (355 per year average).


In comparing the 2 screening protocols, the FPR of CAH NBS remains high, the PPV remains low, and false-negatives occur more frequently than has been reported. Physicians should be cautioned that a negative NBS does not necessarily rule out classic CAH; therefore, any patient for whom there is clinical concern for CAH should receive immediate diagnostic testing.

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