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Cystic Fibrosis (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder. It is an autosomal recessive disease. This means that to get the disease, you must inherit the changed (mutated) gene from both parents. Keep in mind:

  • If a person inherits the changed gene from only one parent, he or she will not get cystic fibrosis but will be a carrier of the disease. Carriers may pass the gene defect on to their children.
  • If you are planning a pregnancy and you are white, talk to your doctor about having a genetic test to find out your chances of having a child with cystic fibrosis. The disease is much more common in white people than in people of other races.

When To Call a Doctor

It is important to diagnose and treat cystic fibrosis early. Call your doctor if your child:

  • Often has lung infections (pneumonia), colds, a cough, shortness of breath, or wheezing.
  • Coughs up mucus that contains blood.
  • Doesn't gain or stay at the same weight.
  • Has smelly, large, greasy stools or diarrhea.
  • Tires easily during activity.
  • Has rounded, flat fingertips (clubbing).

Call your doctor if your child who has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis gets worse in any way. Typically, this is when your child:

  • Has increased coughing or has a cough that is getting worse.
  • Has new wheezing or has wheezing that is getting worse.
  • Has more trouble breathing than usual.
  • Has lost weight or is not gaining weight, for no clear reason.
  • Is having symptoms that you and your doctor have discussed as being more serious problems.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. It's not a good idea for people who have cystic fibrosis. If your child has any signs of cystic fibrosis, even if they seem to be mild, call the doctor right away.

Who to see

The following doctors can diagnose and treat cystic fibrosis:

Other health professionals may also be involved in your child's care:

Cystic fibrosis care centers offer the best, most comprehensive treatment available by addressing medical, nutritional, and emotional needs. You can find one by contacting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at www.cff.org.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

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