Cushing's Syndrome (Hypercortisolism)

Also known as: Cushing syndrome, hypercortisolism, CS.

What is Cushing’s syndrome?

Cushing syndrome is a relatively rare hormone problem in children (it usually occurs in the 25-40 year age group) associated with too much of the “stress hormone” cortisol  (which helps your child's body respond to illness or injury) being present.


What causes Cushing’s syndrome? 

Causes vary. It can be caused by too much production of cortisol in the body (endogenous); e.g.in prepubertal (particularly toddlers) children increased activity or tumors of the adrenal gland are a common cause. In older children pituitary gland tumors, lung tumors and occasionally some tumors outside the pituitary may cause increased cortisol body levels.

It may also be caused by the administration of cortisol products from outside (exogenous causes) like prednisone, dexamethasone or cortisone being given in large doses and/or over a long time period for other medical disorders.


What are the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome?

In children who are still growing, growth slows while the child gains weight. Other symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome include, stretch marks on the abdomen and thighs, round or “ moon” shaped face, increased hair growth and changes in menstruation in girls, early puberty, acne, fragile skin, slow healing, fatigue, weakness, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many other symptoms.

 

What are Cushing’s syndrome care options?

Treatments vary depending on the underlying cause of the increased cortisol level. These may involve surgery or radiation; blocking cortisol activity with medications or changing the dosage or frequency of medication.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 6/12/2018 9:35:47 AM


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Dr. Kelly Seiler is employed by Pediatric Specialists of America (PSA), the physician-led multi-specialty group practice of Nicklaus Children's Health System. She is a pediatric endocrinologist within the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at Nicklaus Children's Hospital and sees patients at the Nicklaus Children's Dan Marino Outpatient Center in Weston, FL.