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Cystic Fibrosis

To detect and prevent

Cystic Fibrosis is a hereditary genetic disorder primarily affecting the lungs and the digestive system. It is caused by a malfunction of the mucus producing glands. Cystic Fibrosis is the most common fatal inherited disease affecting young Canadians. More than 3,000 people in Canada have CF and about 1 in 25 Canadians is a carrier of a defective version of the gene responsible for Cystic Fibrosis. Every year, one in every 2,500 children born in Canada is diagnosed with the disease.

Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis causes a build-up of thick mucus in the lungs leading to severe respiratory problems. Moreover, mucus and protein build-up in the digestive tract results in extreme difficulty in digesting and absorbing adequate nutrients from food. The effects of CF are most devastating in the lungs and the majority of people with CF will die from complications brought on by lung disease.

Fertility and Cystic Fibrosis

As Cystic Fibrosis can affect mucus viscosity, fertility may also be compromised. In women with the disease, the fluidity of vaginal secretions varies because the mucus is often thicker. This makes it more difficult for the sperm to travel and for fertilization to occur. Therefore, it often takes longer for women with Cystic Fibrosis to become pregnant. Regrettably for men, in most cases, Cystic Fibrosis leads to infertility (not to sterility). Sperm cell production is normal, the problem occurs in the testicle, where a blockage or absence of the vas deferens may make the passage of sperm impossible. When the overall health of a person with CF allows, one can consult a fertility specialist and look into the use of the medically assisted procreation techniques.

Causes of Cystic Fibrosis

Anyone can be a carrier of the disease. If there is no family history of the disease, then risks may lie in the genetic history of a given population group. Ashkenazi Jews, Canadians and Caucasians have the highest prevalence rate of CF carriers with 1 in 25 and 1 in 15 for the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean area.

Heredity factors of recessive disease

A recessive disease occurs when a person inherits two defective copies of a defective gene.

A person whose cells contain a single abnormal gene is a carrier of the disease but does not have Cystic Fibrosis. Each time two parents who are carriers have a child, there are three possible scenarios: a 25% chance that the child will neither be a carrier nor have CF, a 50% chance that the child will be unaffected but will be a carrier and a 25% chance that the child will be born with Cystic Fibrosis.

A Test to Gain Knowledge

The genes associated with thise disease are known and it is possible to get genetic screening tests performed at PROCREA Cliniques to find out your carrier status. At this time, only those individuals who already have a known case in their family or their partner is known to be a carrier can turn to the Canadian Public Health system for screening.

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« Every year, one in every 2,500 children born in Canada is diagnosed with the disease. »