Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cystic fibrosis

In the news today, I came across an article that's close to my heart. In the UK, there's a guy who is the Chancellor Gordon Brown. Today its been confirmed that his 4 month old son has Cystic fibrosis (CF).

CF is an inherited condition affecting the glands that produce body fluids or secretions. In CF, these secretions are stickier and thicker than normal. This hinders the functioning of important organs such as the lungs and the digestive system.
Why is this close to my heart? My younger brother died of Cystic fibrosis when he was just 20 months old. I was 4 at the time and dont remember much of what happened but my mum has talked about it with me from time to time.
Faulty Gene
Its exact cause, discovered in 1989, is a faulty gene. To develop CF a baby has to inherit the faulty gene from both parents. About one in 25 people are carriers of CF (2.3 million people in the UK).
Inheritance is autosomal recessive (if both parents are carriers there's a one in four chance the child will have CF and a two in four chance the child will be a carrier but not have the disease. There's a one in four chance that the child will neither have CF nor be a carrier).
It's very possible that I could be a carrier of the faulty gene. I cant remember if I've already been tested or not. I'll most likely be tested when/if I fall pregnant.
Although there is currently no cure for CF, there is a lot of research under way to try to find a cure for CF lung disease through gene therapy.
Children born with CF do not have a normal life expectancy, though it is improving all the time. The average survival is now more than 30 years, but with the best treatment, children today with CF have a greater than 80% chance of living into their late forties.
I dont normally say this but my thoughts and prayers are with the Brown family at this time.

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