Genetic Testing: The Future of Preventing Cystic Fibrosis?

So much of it “comes down to morals.”

A couple struggling with cystic fibrosis may have up to a 50% chance of passing the gene on to their child if they decide to conceive naturally. They may briefly consider the option of IVF (in vitro fertilization), but it is very expensive and does not always work.

What is a family to do?

A couple struggling with this decision is not alone. Cystic fibrosis is caused by one lone gene mutation and is therefore considered a monogenic disease. Other monogenic diseases include hemophilia, Tay-Sachs, and Long QT Syndrome.

More than 30 million people in the US, or about 10% of people, are affected by genetic diseases. They may have to decide whether the risk of having children and potentially passing these genetic diseases on to them is worth the risk.

Could genetic testing be the answer to greatly reducing these numbers?

Genetic testing is gaining popularity as a way to prevent the number of people living with rare and life-threatening diseases, like cystic fibrosis.

Genetic testing is done by analyzing small samples of blood or body tissues to determine whether a person carries genes for certain inherited disorders (Read more here). Genetic testing can be done even before birth.

Women can undergo a blood test or a more thorough chorionic villus sampling (CVS) around the 10th to 12th week of a pregnancy. A CVS involves examining a small piece of the placenta in which a doctor will check for genetic problems in the fetus. This procedure is invasive and carries with it a small chance of miscarriage.

Genetic testing has been likened to vaccines.

Vaccines adhere to the “treat and prevent” approach, and protect against a multitude of diseases. It is estimated that 122 million children have been saved because of vaccines. Likewise, those who make the comparison between genetic testing and vaccines declare that genetic testing can also prevent many diseases for young ones.

How do you feel about genetic testing? Is it the same as vaccines? Comment below and check out the article about genetic testing here.

Do you have a story about cystic fibrosis or using genetic testing? Tell us about it here.

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