- May 26, 2020
- Michael Allibone
- Posted in Resources
New parents often feel overwhelmed with joy and stress as they begin planning for their little one’s grand debut. For instance, some moms may find themselves researching what foods they can’t eat or why certain medications are more harmful to pregnancy than others.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is not usually the first term to pop into a first-time parent’s mind when they discover they’re expecting. However, it’s important to know what causes cystic fibrosis so you can decide whether or not you want to be screened for the condition.
CF is the most common autosomal recessive disorder and affects more than 30,000 people in the U.S. annually. Consequently, determining whether or not your baby has CF before he or she is born can help you better prepare for their childhood.
Here is what you need to know about the causes, symptoms, and signs of cystic fibrosis, and how to help your child if they’re diagnosed with CF.
What Is Cystic Fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition parents pass to their children at birth. The condition primarily impacts the respiratory and digestive systems and affects the way bodies produce mucus.
According to Mayo Clinic, thin and runny mucus is healthy, whereas CF mucus is thick and sticky. The buildup of thick mucus in the lungs clogs airways and traps germs. Eventually, the influx of germs can lead to infections, respiratory failure, and other sicknesses. CF in the pancreas can prevent the body from receiving key nutrients.
People with a family history of CF are most at risk of having CF themselves. Symptoms can include breathlessness, frequent lung problems, chronic constipation, and more – depending on how severe the case is.
What Causes Cystic Fibrosis?
A mutation in the CFTR gene, which controls the distribution of salt and fluids in and out of cells, directly leads to CF. A baby with CF will have received a mutated CFTR copy from both parents.
A baby who only inherits one mutated copy will be a carrier, meaning they could have CF without displaying symptoms. There are about 10 million CF carriers in the U.S., and many do not even know they’re carriers. Carriers are at an increased risk of CF-related conditions (like male infertility and pancreatitis, for example).
How Can You Help Your Child Through CF?
Presently, CF is incurable. However, professionals are heavily researching gene therapy in hopes of finding a cure. Until then, you should be aware of coping methods for both the digestive and respiratory effects of CF.
Babies and children with lung issues can participate in exercise and
chest physical therapy to manage chest-related problems. That said, if these remedies do not improve the condition, a doctor can also prescribe antibiotics or other medicines.
CF digestive problems can be treated with a healthy diet, vitamin supplements, and lots of fluids to thin the mucus in your lungs. Be sure to consult with your doctor when considering any of these or other options for your baby.
Screening Test Possibilities
Knowing what conditions your baby could have in advance can help you better prepare for his or her needs. NTD's new line of Carrier Screening panels are performed from a simple blood draw that will test you for various medical conditions, including CF.
If you are concerned about the likelihood that your baby will have a genetic disorder, we encourage both parents to get screened through our carrier screening tests. Understanding what causes cystic fibrosis, as well as your child’s chances of having CF, will help you confidently plan for your family’s future.
Although CF cannot be cured, the condition can be managed with proper treatment and care. Consult your doctor today to find out if Cystic Fibrosis or other Genetic Carrier Screening testing is right for you.
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. About Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. https://www.cff.org/What-is-CF/About-Cystic-Fibrosis/
- Holland, Kimberly. (2016). Cystic Fibrosis in Babies and Children: Testing, Outlook, and More. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/cystic-fibrosis-in-babies-children
- MayoClinic. (2020). Cystic Fibrosis. MayoClinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cystic-fibrosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353700
- Miller AC et al. (2020). Cystic fibrosis carriers are at increased risk for a wide range of cystic fibrosis–related conditions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(3). https://www.cff.org/What-is-CF/About-Cystic-Fibrosis/
- WebMD. (2019). What Is Cystic Fibrosis? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/children/what-is-cystic-fibrosis#1
The information provided represents the general opinions of NTD Eurofins and is not intended to be used as specific advice for any one individual. Individuals should always consult with a physician to obtain specific advice and to receive answers to any and all questions or concerns related to health, wellness, pregnancy, and birth.
Pursuant to applicable federal and/or state laboratory requirements, Eurofins NTD, LLC has established and verified the accuracy and precision of its testing services. Tests are developed and performance characteristics determined by Eurofins NTD, LLC. The methods and performance characteristics have been reviewed and approved by the New York State Department of Health.