- What is Cystic Fibrosis?
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening genetic disorder where thick mucus is primarily built up in the lungs, causing severe respiratory problems and complications (such as bacterial infection and inflammation). It is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and there is no cure available. Mucus build up also occurs in the digestive tract, reducing the efficiency of nutrient absorption.
CF is characterized by several signs and symptoms including: difficulty breathing; a chronic wet, rattling cough that brings forth thick mucus and sometimes blood; severe, chronic lung infections (primary cause of CF-related deaths); failure to grow or gain weight and extreme difficulty digesting food. Mild forms of the disease are sometimes confused and diagnosed as other common diseases such as asthma, COPD, pneumonia or celiac disease.
- What is CF caused by?
CF is caused by an inherited defective gene. However, the gene is recessive. As such, an affected individual must inherit one set of defective CF genes from both the mother and father. Otherwise, the person may carry the gene, but not exhibit any symptoms. This is not to say that two carrier parents will definitely conceive a child with CF nor will that child be a carrier for CF. CF detection is being added to several provincial newborn screening programs.