Cystic fibrosis is a life threatening genetic disorder. It causes severe lung damage which leads to nutritional deficiencies. About ten years ago people with this disorder did not live beyond their teens. This is because scientists could not determine the genetic code which caused cystic fibrosis. .
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition that affects the glands that produce mucus, tears, sweat, saliva and digestive juices. In normal people, these products are thin and slippery. Because people with cystic fibrosis glands produce sticky and thick secretions it plugs up tubes, ducts, and passageways. This is especially so with the lungs and pancreas. The biggest concern with cystic fibrosis is respiratory failure. .
Signs and symptoms of cystic fibrosis vary among each patient. Another factor is the age of the patient. In newborns, the first signs are the blockage of the intestines, and later its noticeable that the infant does not have immediate growth. The signs from childhood to adolescence include: salty skin, bowel blockage, greasy stools, delayed growth, chronic coughing or wheezing, and chest and sinus infections.
So what causes cystic fibrosis? There is a defective gene and it alters a protein. This protein regulates the movement of salt, called sodium chloride, in and out of cells. Since this gene is defective, it results in thick and sticky fluids in the respiratory and digestive tracts and reproductive system. This is also what causes the sweat to have increased amounts of salt. The inherited gene is a recessive gene, meaning the child needs to inherit two copies of the gene, one from each parent. If an offspring only inherits one copy, he/she will not develop cystic fibrosis. This does make him/her a carrier however, which means that he/she may pass the gene onto their offspring. .
If both parents come from families with cystic fibrosis, the chances are one out of four that the child will get cystic fibrosis Scientists estimate that 10 millions people may be carriers of cystic fibrosis and not even know it.