Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that impacts the tissues and cells in the body that create mucus and sweat. People with cystic fibrosis may experience mild to severe symptoms such as respiratory problems, organ damage, and lung infections due to excessive production of mucus within the body. If you were able to predict whether your future child would have this life-threatening condition, would it change your family planning? Now you can with carrier testing.
About Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis, or CF, is a serious condition that stems from a mutation on chromosome 7. It causes the production of excessively thick and sticky mucus in the body. This mucus can cause blockages or damage in the lungs, airways, and other organs. Some patients with cystic fibrosis experience mild symptoms or none at all, while others can suffer from life-threatening health complications. Some of the most serious outcomes of cystic fibrosis include:
- Lung infections
- Damaged lungs
- Pulmonary problems
- Respiratory trouble
- Malnutrition that can delay growth
Cystic fibrosis most often affects the lungs, liver, pancreas, sinuses, sex organs, and intestines. Cystic fibrosis is a devastating condition that affects thousands of young people every year. Because of the debilitating nature of cystic fibrosis, the life expectancy of those who have it is quite low. Most patients have to spend an abundant amount of time in hospitals or undergoing treatments to control symptoms and maintain quality of life.
How Carrier Testing Can Help with Family Planning
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition. It takes both parents passing on cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) genes for the child to have cystic fibrosis. If only one parent passed on the gene, the child can become a carrier. Carriers may not experience symptoms of the disease, but they could then pass it on to their children. Carrier testing for cystic fibrosis can give prospective parents the information they need to potentially prevent having a child with cystic fibrosis.
By using a comprehensive panel screen, carrier testing can search for more than 110 disorders in you or your partner’s genetic makeup. You could discover whether you are a carrier for cystic fibrosis and many other genetic disorders, from the common to the unusual. You can customize your carrier tests to screen for disorders that run in your family. Undergoing carrier testing now, before you get pregnant, can determine whether you and your partner are at risk of passing cystic fibrosis onto future children.
If a carrier test shows that both you and your spouse are carriers of the CFTR gene, your child will have a 25% chance of having cystic fibrosis. This may be enough to alter your family plan. You may choose to use a sperm donor who is not a CFTR carrier to eliminate the chances of having a child with the condition, for example, or choose to adopt rather than having a biological child. You and your partner may choose to take the chance, armed with the knowledge of what may come. No matter what path you choose, carrier testing can make you and your partner informed decision makers.