Cystic Fibrosis Prevention: Can You Keep It From Happening?

Couple consulting a doctor

Story at-a-glance -

  • If an individual’s parents both carry the faulty gene, and he or she inherits these faulty genes from them, then there’s a large chance that that person will get the illness
  • The best way to prevent or stay vigilant about this illness is to be aware if you’re carrying the faulty gene

Because cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease, there is no way to keep it from manifesting. If an individual’s parents both carry the faulty gene, and he or she inherits these faulty genes from them, then there’s a large chance that that person will get the illness.

Thus, the best way to prevent or stay vigilant about this illness is to be aware if you’re carrying the faulty gene. If you’re planning to get pregnant, you and your partner can go through genetic testing before conceiving. This is important, especially if there have been cases of cystic fibrosis in both of your families.

Testing for Cystic Fibrosis Before Pregnancy

Genetic testing is a type of blood test that is given to couples who are planning to become pregnant. This type of test looks for abnormal genes that may lead to diseases in their babies. Usually, it is done before the woman conceives. However, since many pregnancies are unplanned, some couples only get screening during the early stages of the pregnancy.

The test for cystic fibrosis can be conducted by an obstetrician, and the results will be given to you after two weeks. In most cases, the woman is tested first — if her results are negative, then the male partner doesn’t need to be tested (since it requires two faulty genes from each parent for cystic fibrosis to occur).1

If you both test positive for the faulty gene, however, your health care provider can help you prepare for the possibility of having a child with CF. He or she can also refer you to a genetic counselor who will help you understand how genes work, what the chances are of passing the condition to your child, potential birth defects that many occur and how it can affect you and your child’s health.2

Can You Find Out if Your Unborn Child Has Cystic Fibrosis?

It’s possible to know if a child has this disease or is a CF carrier even while still in the womb. This can be done by having a prenatal test. There are two options you can consider:3

Chorionic villus sampling. Also known as CVS, this test checks tissue acquired from the placenta for genetic conditions and other birth defects. A CVS can be acquired at 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Amniocentesis. After amniotic fluid is taken from the amniotic sac, it’s tested to see if there are any birth defects and genetic conditions affecting the unborn child. An amnio can be performed at 15 to 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Should You Consider Newborn Screening for Your Child?

Aside from the “sweat test,” or checking if a newborn’s sweat is salty, a newborn screening may be helpful to determine if a child is born with cystic fibrosis. Usually conducted in the first two or three days after birth, a newborn screening test is essential for a child who has a high risk for cystic fibrosis, as it can help the parents and the physician come up with steps to maintain the baby’s health.

According to research, babies with cystic fibrosis who were treated early in their lives have better nutrition and grew up healthier than those who received a much later diagnosis. This is because early CF diagnosis may help:

Maintain lung health

Improve growth

Lessen hospital stays

Improve longevity

To perform a newborn diagnosis, your health care provider will prick the heel of the child and take a few drops of blood onto a special card, called a Guthrie card. This is then mailed to a special laboratory to be tested for certain health anomalies.

For CF, the newborn screening will check for IRT, which is a chemical produced by the pancreas. IRT levels are usually high in individuals who have cystic fibrosis. If IRT is detected in a child’s blood, then the newborn screening will test positive. However, remember that other factors can lead to increase in IRT levels, such as premature birth or the baby being stressed during childbirth.4

MORE ABOUT CYSTIC FIBROSIS

Cystic Fibrosis: Introduction

What Is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms

Cystic Fibrosis Causes

Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

Cystic Fibrosis Prevention

Cystic Fibrosis Diet

Cystic Fibrosis FAQ


< Previous

Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

Next >

Cystic Fibrosis Diet

Post your comment
Click Here and be the first to comment on this article