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How do I know if my child has Cystic Fibrosis?

Most children are diagnosed with CF in their first year, however sometimes the diagnosis might be delayed until pre school age. In their first year, a child with CF will typically have a persistent cough and fails to thrive, and in some cases either respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms may occur. They will have frequent, pale, bulky, foul smelling and sometimes oily stools, containing foodstuffs, which float in water and are difficult to flush away. There is a poor growth pattern despite a normal or even a huge appetite.
Although CF is usually accurately diagnosed once these symptoms occur, some centres may not regularly encounter Cystic Fibrosis and so the diagnosis could be delayed until the signs are very obvious.
These late symptoms include malnutrition, unusual stools, bouts of coughing, and rectal prolapsed which is brought on by pancreatic insufficiency. This should be an obvious indicator of CF. Rectal prolapsed occurs in 25% of untreated patients. However, once CF is diagnosed this can be treated with pancreatic supplements.
The following are signs that your pre-schooler may be suffering from CF:
  • Persistent cough with or without sputum
  • Unexplained chronic or recurrent wheezing
  • Slow weight and Height gain
  • Rectal Prolapsed
  • Chronic Diarrhoea
  • Clubbing of the fingers
  • Salt crystal formation on the skin
  • Hypotonic dehydration
  • Unexplained Liver Disease
Very few children should have escaped diagnosis by school age. If they have they may have formed a mild mutation. They will show obvious signs of malnutrition and have breathing problems that are usually associated with Asthma. They may have severe respiratory infection and regular abdominal pains. Vomiting and constipation may also be a symptom.

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