About Cystic Fibrosis

Going Through Cystic Fibrosis Screening

Screening is a procedure to see if an unborn fetus or a newborn child has cystic fibrosis.

In newborn babies, the test is done through a newborn screening test. This test is required in 43 states in the United States.

Because cystic fibrosis is a hereditary illness, parents also have the option to undergo screening to see if they are carriers and can pass the disease to their children.

The Importance of Cystic Fibrosis Screening

Statistics have shown that one in 3,200 babies born from Caucasian parents has cystic fibrosis and there are around 100,000 CF patients in the world.

There is no cure as yet for cystic fibrosis, but it is very much treatable. The quality and length of life of a person with cystic fibrosis is highly dependent on the early screening and diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. If the diagnosis is done at an early stage, a patient can expect to live a quite normal life.

1. Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Screening for Would-Be Parents

It is possible for two people who are planning to have children to know if the possibility of having a child sick with cystic fibrosis exists for them. They can go through the testing procedure before or during pregnancy.

For a baby to have cystic fibrosis, both parents need to be carriers of a defective copy of the cystic fibrosis trans-membrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. If both parents are carriers, there is a 25% chance at birth of having a child afflicted with cystic fibrosis. If only one parent is a carrier, the chances are very slim. The probability is even lowered if one or both parents have Asian or African ancestry.

Cystic fibrosis carrier screening is a very simple process. A doctor simply gets a blood sample of both parents or takes a swab at the insides of the mouth. The sample then go through a DNA test to find the possible defective gene.

2. Newborn Cystic Fibrosis Screening and the Sweat Test

If the parents have not undergone genetic screening, then their baby can be tested right after the baby was born. Doctors can do this through genetic testing as well, or through sweat testing.

The sweat test is done by applying weak electrical currents and sweat-inducing chemicals to portions of the leg or the arm. It is painless. The sweat is then collected and then tested for chloride or salt content as patients with cystic fibrosis have elevated levels of salt in their sweat.

Finally…

If two people who are planning to have children together suspect that they may pass cystic fibrosis to their children, either because they have a relative who suffers from it or is a known carrier, or because they are simply concerned, they should undergo screening tests. An early screening for cystic fibrosis can mean a lot in improving the quality of life for a child diagnosed with the ailment from the onset if proper treatment is applied to the patient.

Disclaimer: This website provides general information about cystic fibrosis and in no means should be taken as a medical or health advice. Please consult your doctor before acting on any of its information.