Cushing's disease and pregnancy: case report and literature review

Document Type



Diabetes/Endocrinology and Metabolism


Objective: To describe a patient with untreated Cushing's disease who had 2 spontaneous pregnancies that resulted in healthy babies on both occasions.

Methods: We present a case report with clinical, laboratory, and imaging data and discuss the literature pertaining to pregnancy in patients with Cushing's syndrome.

Results: A 28-year-old woman came to our endocrinology clinic with a 1-year history of symptoms and signs of Cushing's syndrome. An elevated 24-hour urinary cortisol excretion and an unsuppressed 1-mg overnight dexamethasone test confirmed the diagnosis. On her next visit, she reported a confirmed pregnancy, which ultimately resulted in the birth of a normal child. Further work-up subsequently showed 2 elevated 24-hour urinary cortisol values, loss of diurnal variation, and an elevated corticotropin level. There was lack of suppression on low-dose and high-dose overnight dexamethasone suppression tests. Magnetic resonance imaging of the pituitary showed normal findings. Inferior petrosal sinus sampling was recommended, but she declined the procedure. The patient returned 3 years later for reevaluation, at which time she reported the birth of another healthy child by cesarean delivery 10 months previously. There were no reported maternal or fetal complications. Examination at this visit revealed buccal pigmentation and proximal myopathy. Investigations showed increased 24-hour urinary cortisol excretion and serum corticotropin levels. Repeated magnetic resonance imaging disclosed a microadenoma on the right side of the pituitary. Unstimulated inferior petrosal sinus sampling showed a gradient to the right; thus, the presence of pituitary-dependent Cushing's disease was confirmed.

Conclusion: Our case demonstrates that patients with pituitary-dependent Cushing's disease are more likely to have spontaneous pregnancies with favorable outcomes than are patients with Cushing's syndrome due to other causes. Our patient, despite having Cushing's disease for more than 7 years, had 2 uneventful pregnancies that produced normal healthy children, without exacerbation of her disease during pregnancy.


Endocrine Practice