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Newborn Screening Suggests Decline in Cystic Fibrosis
Date:2/27/2008

Study also found drop in a severe form of the disorder,,

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of cystic fibrosis may be decreasing, and a more severe form of the disease caused by one particular gene also appears to be on the decline.

Those are the two main findings from a Massachusetts study that found the overall incidence of cystic fibrosis dropped from between 25 and 35 babies a year before 2003 to less than 20 babies each year for most years after 2003.

The study also found that the incidence of a severe form of the disease, caused by the genotype ΔF508/ΔF508, also dropped dramatically. Before 2003, at least 10 babies were born with this form of cystic fibrosis each year. In 2003 and beyond, only about five babies were born annually with this type of cystic fibrosis in the Massachusetts area, according to the study.

"The most severe genotype has dropped out dramatically. The new mix has some severe genotype, but overall, it's a milder group of kids, though not everyone has mild disease," said one of the study's authors, Anne Marie Comeau, deputy director of the New England Newborn Screening Program in Jamaica Plain, and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.

The findings were published as a letter in the Feb. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder that affects mucus production and the sweat glands, making mucus sticky and thick, and sweat becomes extremely salty. The disorder affects many major organs, such as the lungs, pancreas and intestines. Mucus can clog the lungs, causing breathing problems and making it easy for bacteria to grow, leading to lung infections and lung damage.

While there's no cure for cystic fibrosis, treatments have improved greatly in recent years. Until the 1980s, most deaths from the disorder occurred in
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