Are You at Risk for Cystic Fibrosis?

Are You at Risk for Cystic Fibrosis?

Image courtesy of dream designs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dream designs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How do you know if you are at risk of getting cystic fibrosis? It can affect males and females and people from all ethnic groups. The disease is most common in Caucasians. Cystic fibrosis is the most common inherited disease among American Caucasians. Caucasians who have ancestors that came from Northern Europe are most susceptible to getting cystic fibrosis.

Are You at Risk for Cystic Fibrosis?

 

Cystic fibrosis is common in Latinos and Native Americans. It is especially prevalent in the Pueblo and Zuni tribes although it is uncertain why they have a higher risk factor. Cystic fibrosis is less common in African Americans and Asian Americans. The disease is believed to evolve from the body’s defense against the disease of cholera. That fact has not been scientifically proved.

 

A human being has 23 pairs of chromosomes that are inherited from parents called DNA. If there is a defective gene it is the number seven gene that will be a mutant. A child cannot get cystic fibrosis unless both parents have the mutant gene. They could become a carrier if they inherit the CF gene from one parent. Carriers do not show any cystic fibrosis symptoms but can pass the gene on to their children. If both parents are carriers there is a 25 percent chance one of their child will have cystic fibrosis.

 

There are many mutations of the cystic fibrosis gene. Some will have more severe symptoms than others born with cystic fibrosis. Scientists estimate that as many as one of every 3600 Caucasian babies born in the United States this year will be born with cystic fibrosis. In comparison, there will be one of every 17,000 African American babies born with the disease, and only one of every 90,000 Asian babies will be born with cystic fibrosis.

 

Scientists estimate that about twelve million Americans are carries of the mutant cystic fibrosis gene. If you know there is cystic fibrosis in your family, you may want to have genetic testing to see if you or your spouse is a carrier for the disease. This may affect your decision about starting or adding to your family. Testing can be done on parents, family members, siblings, and on unborn or recently born children.

 

Cystic fibrosis is a disease that demands daily care including pulmonary therapy, a special diet high in fats and vitamin supplements to prevent dehydration and proper growth. Special oral doses of enzymes for the pancreas may be required as well as an antibiotic to combat lung infections. A child may be given a mucus-thinning drug to keep their mucus thin and flowing.

 

New research is taking place on a new drug that goes into the system through the inhalation process and delivers normal copies of the mutant gene number seven. This new gene therapy is undergoing clinical trials in many different health and medical centers throughout the United States. Lung disease is common in most patients with cystic fibrosis causing disability and a shorter life span.

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