Plasma 17-hydroxyprogesterone concentrations were determined in 47 preterm and term infants who were ill from a variety of causes. The results were compared with those in 53 healthy term infants. Mean plasma 17-hydroxyprogesterone values were appreciably higher in ill term and healthy preterm infants compared with healthy term infants, but the highest values were found in ill preterm infants. None of the infants had adrenal disease but some very ill infants had plasma 17-hydroxyprogesterone values approaching those seen in untreated infants with congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Interpretation of the results of plasma steroid measurements in newborn infants must take account of gestational age and the presence of stress related illness.
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