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Cystic Fibrosis Essay

1509 words - 6 pages

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a disorder causing the body to release extremely thick and sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and pancreas, leading to problems with breathing and digestion, infection, and ultimately death. Abnormal secretion of sweat and saliva glands is also characteristic of CF. This disease a hereditary disorder of the exocrine glands that is characterized by respiratory and digestive problems and the most common inherited disease among Caucasians, affecting 3,600 live births in the Canada alone. CF affects men and women equally, but affects white people more than black people. This disease mainly affects children and young adults and is diagnosed by the age of three. Due to the advances in genetic research, diagnosis has been made on some adults that have mild forms of the illness and even on fetuses. In the lungs, this thick mucus on the respiratory tracts blocks airways and impedes natural infection-fighting mechanisms found in the lungs resulting in an increase of respiratory infections. Eventually, the body’s immune system will turn against its own lung tissue resulting in lung failure. CF is carried as an autosomal recessive trait. This implies that in order to exhibit CF, both the mother and the father must carry and pass the defected gene to the child. Through carrier screening, researchers have determined that one in twenty-five Caucasians carry the gene for CF. Each time two carriers on CF conceive, there is a 25 percent chance that their child will have CF, a 50 percent chance the child will be a carrier of the defected CF gene, and a 25 percent chance that the child will be a non-carrier of the gene. With such a small percent resulting in non-carriers, it is no wonder CF is the most common inherited disease in Caucasians.
One child with CF may have respiratory problems but not digestive problems, while another child may have both respiratory and digestive problems. In some cases of CF, the first sign or symptom of this disease is meconium ilius, which is a blockage of the intestine in newborns. During the first day or so after birth, a newborn will pass a tarry, greenish-black stool. In 20 percent of the cases of CF, this stool becomes so thick that it can not move through the intestine and is not passed. In other infants the first sign might be a bulky and greasy stool and lack of weight gain, muscle tone, or growth. Other children’s first sign of CF might be frequent respiratory infections and coughing. As teenagers, individuals with CF are delayed in their growth and the age at which they enter puberty as compared to a normal teenager. Some overall universal signs and symptoms of CF include very salty tasting skin. Another characteristic of CF is persistent coughing and wheezing with phlegm, and they may also experience shortness of breath due to the obstructed breathing pathways caused by CF. Because of the severe problems with digestion that is caused by CF, many times these individuals exhibit an excessive appetite...

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