Cystic Fibrosis

By: Melissa Mansfield Biology 125 B4

Cystic fibrosis is known simply as cystic fibrosis or shortened to CF.

Who is affected?

Mostly people with ancestors from northern Europe are affected, but all ethnic groups and races can be affected. Around 20,000 Europeans, 30,000 Americans and 3,000 Canadians have cystic fibrosis. Although these are the groups its most common in, anyone can be a candidate for CF.

Symptoms

Severity of cystic fibrosis is different for different people, if the disease is mild, sometimes the symptoms may not show up until later on in the teen or adult years. Poor growth, breathing difficulties, respiratory infections, abdominal pain and discomfort, diabetes, liver disease and many other similar symptoms and diseases are common in people with CF.
Men who have cystic fibrosis are infertile and it can make it more difficult to women to get pregnant.

Treatments

Although there is no known cure, treatments including respiratory therapies , exercises and others can improve your quality of life and life expectancy.
No two cases of CF are identical, so different treatments for a child affected will be different. Frequently meeting with a specialized doctor is crucial. CF once was considered a fatal disease for a child, but now children affected can live into adulthood, but they will be faced with many medical issues and will have to deal with it their whole life.
At this time, the most promising cure for cystic fibrosis in the future is gene therapy. Scientists are devolving ways to make gene therapy a possibility because currently there are many limitations.

Diagnosis and Causes of CF

Prenatal tests are not common but are available. These tests have some risks to the mom and are expensive, they don't always detect the CF gene mutations. Amniocentesis and chorionic villus biopsy are the two prenatal tests that are around.

Cystic fibrosis is caused by a gene mutation. The gene affected is not on a sex-linked chromosome, it is on an autosomal chromosome. For CF to appear in a child two abnormal genes must be inherited from each parent. The CF gene is recessive so both parents must pass on that recessive gene. (See picture below for a visual aid) If both parents are carriers of the CF disease but not affected themselves, there is 25% the child will have CF.
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Prevention

There is no way scientific way to prevent CF. The only way is for couples to see a genetic counselor and find out if they are carriers for CF. If they are, the couple can choose not to have children so they don't pass on the recessive gene or have a child with CF. This is a choice for the couples, so this isn't the best way to stop CF. It is almost impossible to prevent the gene from spreading to others.