Cystic Fibrosis among White Americans


The health disparity I chose is Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The reason I chose this topic is because I had learned a little bit about it in my last class.   CF is an autosomal recessive disorder that is the most common lethal inherited disease in white Americans.  CF is a disease of the mucus glands and affects multiple organs systems.  Characteristics of CF include: chronic respiratory infections, pancreatic enzyme insufficiency, and associated complications in untreated patients.  Lung disease is the main cause of death.

The prevalence of CF in Caucasian newborns is 1 in 2,500 to 3,500.  Cystic Fibrosis affects about 1 in 17,000 African Americans and 1 in 31,000 Asian Americans.  The reason why it is so prevalent among white Americans is because the genetic mutation spread throughout Europe during the Stone Age. Approximately 1 in 20 white people have the silent cystic fibrosis trait.   CF, however, is only lethal when the mutation is inherited from both parents.

Preventing CF is not possible at this point because there is no cure.  There are medications and treatments that can extend the life of someone who has CF, which the United States has the highest survival age.  Based on a study it was found that males and people with a higher socioeconomic status have a higher survival age.  People with a higher socioeconomic status have more access to treatments and medications therefore have more opportunity to survive longer than those who don’t have access to treatments and medications.

Race, genetics, and health sometimes all go hand-in-hand but not always.  As we saw in the lecture about Sickle Cell Anemia and Malaria, these two were higher among the African races.  That’s because Malaria occurs highest in African countries.  Genetics obviously plays some part because Sickle Cell Anemia is higher in Africans but environmental factors also affect health.  There isn’t as much access to health care in certain African countries as there is here in the United States.  Therefore, people can’t prevent themselves as much from getting Malaria because they don’t have the same access to medications and treatments.

Picture of the Inheritance of Cystic Fibrosis



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