banner
Health Team

Newborns to be tested for Cystic Fibrosis

Posted April 22, 2009

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— North Carolina has joined 46 states in adding Cystic Fibrosis testing for all newborns. Typically, the inherited, chronic disease isn't diagnosed until a child starts to show symptoms. However, with newborn testing, more could be done to treat the disease early – before it becomes life threatening.

Test can detect genetic marker for Cystic Fibrosis Test can detect genetic marker for Cystic Fibrosis

For many new parents, like Thomas and Jocelyn Matthews, thinking that their newborn could develop a potentially life-threatening disease is the furthest thing from their mind.

"When you have a baby, it's supposed to be perfect,” Jocelyn Matthews said.

Cystic Fibrosis primarily affects the lungs and the digestive system. The child develops persistent coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, and then frequent lung infections.

The disease also affects the digestive system, even though the child may have a healthy appetite.

“What happens is that the meal goes undigested, unabsorbed,” said Dr. Jeffrey Engel, state health director.

Cystic Fibrosis affects 30,000 children and adults in the United States. In North Carolina, samples taken from newborns are sent to the state lab for DNA testing. Parents can then learn right away if their child has a genetic marker for Cystic Fibrosis.

“Rather than waiting for them to get sick, we hope to keep them in better health for longer periods of time,” Engel said.

Since Cystic Fibrosis isn't part of Jessica and Andrew Harrison's family history, they expect their daughter will test negative for the disease.

It is "one more thing to check off the list and not be worried about. Because in this big wide-world, there are so many things,” Jessica Harrison said about the Cystic Fibrosis test.

If a child does test positive for Cystic Fibrosis, doctors can then keep a close watch for symptoms and treat those early.

There are effective interventions and treatments that can help people with Cystic Fibrosis live productive lives well into their 30's, 40's and beyond.

If a child is identified as a genetic carrier for Cystic Fibrosis, the family may also be offered genetic counseling to see what that means for the child.

5 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Cricket at the lake Apr 24, 2009

    Didn't Johnnie Edwards make all his money sueing Doctors for causing Cystic Fibrosis?

  • GoGreen Apr 23, 2009

    Nice try doggy dave. Way to dig deep in the FUD arsenal to link newborn testing to the evils of universal health care. What are you, and insurance agent?

    Parents, you can opt out of this and any test on newborns.

  • guraqt960 Apr 23, 2009

    colliedave said: A scary prospect of universal health care is the probability that parents of babies identified in-utero as carriers of a genetic disorder such as this one or the neurofibromatosis that I carry will be given the option of aborting the baby or not receiving the often expensive health care for this child.

    Did you read the story? Or even the headline? The test is on newborns...no abortion AFTER a child is born. I'm pregnant now, and testing for CF was one of many tests electively offered because I'm in my mid 30's, but I declined it. Not only do I not have any family history, I wouldn't terminate regardless. But for those women who choose to have the ELECTIVE test done in the 2nd trimester, if they discover their child carries the marker, it can help them to prepare for their new baby better, line up a specialist for the delivery, etc. Please don't jump to the conclusion that a women would end a pregnancy because of a potential illness or disease. Thank you.

  • colliedave Apr 23, 2009

    If a child is identified as a genetic carrier for Cystic Fibrosis, the family may also be offered genetic counseling to see what that means for the child.

    A scary prospect of universal health care is the probability that parents of babies identified in-utero as carriers of a genetic disorder such as this one or the neurofibromatosis that I carry will be given the option of aborting the baby or not receiving the often expensive health care for this child.

    (I doubt my post will make it past the WRAL mind police b/c it is not PC)

  • asdfg Apr 23, 2009

    "In North Carolina, samples taken from newborns are sent to the state lab for DNA testing"

    Does it bother anyone that the state will now receive the DNA of every child born in NC? Who pays for this testing? Is it really necessary and cost effective to test all babies when it occurs in less than 1 in 10000 people.