May is cystic fibrosis awareness month. Until my daughter was diagnosed at birth with CF, I had no idea what the condition was. And while most children are now being diagnosed through newborn screening, there are still many children out there who are ill with parents struggling to get a correct diagnosis. CF presents differently in each patient, but most will have frequent respiratory illness, trouble gaining weight, foul smelling stools, and salty tasting skin. Here are some little known facts about CF.
1. Nearly 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year.
2. Everyday a baby is born with CF and everyday someone dies from CF.
3. 1 in 31 Americans is a symptomless carrier of the CF gene and doesn’t know it.
4. In 1 out of 400 American couples, both are carriers of the CF gene and usually, neither one knows it.
5. If both parents are carriers of the CF gene, there is a 25% that each child they have will have CF.
6. CF related diabetes is a third type of diabetes that no one talks about. It is similar to type 1 and 50% of those with CF will develop it. There are no medications to help.
7. Doctors advise people with CF not to spend time together and must keep their friendships to an online status.
8. The main “problem” in CF is that chloride (salt) cannot pass properly through the cell wall. This is what makes the normally thin mucus in our bodies thick and sticky, trapping bacteria and clogging the lungs and pancreas.
9. Salty ocean air has been shown to be beneficial to those with CF, helping them to breathe better.
10. The CF Foundation was created in the 1960s by concerned parents. Because of their dedication and hard work, treatments have been created to raise life expectancy from age 8 in the 1960s to age 37 today.