The only way a person can inherit the cystic fibrosis if both their parents are carrier of the mutant cystic fibrosis gene. Scientists know that one in every thirty people are carriers of this mutant gene. Your risk is higher if you are a Caucasian with ancestors that came from the Northern part of Europe. If you have a family history of cystic fibrosis, you are more likely to be a carrier of the mutant gene. If you are Caucasian, your risk of being a carrier of the disease is 1 in 29. The statistics change dramatically for those of Latino descent. Only 1 in 46 people will be a carrier. If you are of African-American descent the risks drop even lower. Only 1 in 90 African-Americans will be a carrier for the mutant cystic fibrosis gene.
If you have genetic testing and find you and your partner are both carriers of this mutant gene, your doctor can test your baby before it is born to see if the baby has the disease. It cannot be treated before the baby is born, but if you are aware the disease is present you will have time to look at all choices. It will allow you time to learn as much as you can about the disease and search for specialists or clinics in your area. Education is power. The more you know about this disease, the better you will be in handling the treatment. Cystic fibrosis is not curable, and any tests taken on embryos will not be able to discover how severe the symptoms will be for that child.
Cystic fibrosis is not curable but is treatable and new advances are being made in the treatment of this disease. Previously, the average lifespan for a child diagnosed with cystic fibrosis was 16 years old. Now patients are living much longer with the average lifespan close to 40 years old.
Doctors and scientists estimate there are more than 30,000 children and adults with cystic fibrosis in the United States. Cystic fibrosis affects major organs of the body including the lungs, the digestive tract, reproduction organs, and the liver. Thick, sticky mucus accumulates in the respiratory and digestive organs. This mucus becomes hard and difficult to remove because it is thick and sticky. This restricts the flow of air in the respiratory system and keeps the body from digesting food. Food not digested properly can cause malnutrition and an inhibited growth to a young child.
There are times when a child is not diagnosed with cystic fibrosis until they are teens. The first sign of cystic fibrosis may be the delay of the onset of puberty. Normally, cystic fibrosis is diagnosed within the first few months of life. Remember, your infant cannot inherit cystic fibrosis unless both you and your partner are carriers of the mutant cystic fibrosis gene. If only one parent is a carrier then the infant there is a twenty five percent chance a child may be a carrier of the CF gene.