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The History of Cystic Fibrosis

Dorothy Hansine Andersen

Dorothy Hansine Andersen

Because the symptoms vary and are largely hidden, cystic fibrosis was only described and suspected for the last couple of centuries without having a true diagnosis of the disease until the turn of the 20th century. Observations of scarring of the pancreas and meconium ileus came first, pathologically, but it was documented in the 1700s, “Woe is the child who tastes salty from a kiss on the brow, for he is cursed, and soon must die.”

Imagine having infants dying within days because their intestines are literally blown apart at birth. Toddlers who are half the normal weight or less because they aren’t absorbing their food because their pancreas isn’t providing enzymes. These are invisible problems and involve issues that aren’t even understood yet. “Failure to thrive” was often what was put on death certificates of people we can trace back as potentially having died from CF based on family history.

Based on the research milestones according to the list on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation site, there is good reason for hope of a cure:
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