History of Cystic Fibrosis

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History of Cystic Fibrosis
“Woe to that child which when kissed on the forehead tastes salty. He is bewitched and soon must die.” This proverb, dating back to European folklore in the 1700’s, was the diagnosis for the disease recognized today as Cystic Fibrosis (CF). In that time period the disease was usually fatal and common among infants. The excessive salt in the sweat, just one symptom of CF, made the disease identifiable. However, since the time of European folklore, various renowned scientists worked actively to discover the cause and possible treatments of Cystic Fibrosis. Documented history of CF began during the 1930’s and each decade following that date brought new advances in the disease.

The 1930’s is the decade said to be the discovery of Cystic Fibrosis. The first mediacl description of CF as an individual disease was in 1936 by a Swiss physician, Dr. Fanconi. He labeled the illness celiac syndrome and said it caused changes in children’s pancreas. In 1938, Dr. Dorothy Andersen of Columbia University in New York, named the disease Cystic Fibrosis and distinguished it from Celiac syndrome because there was progressive lung destruction and death in infancy or early childhood. (Dorothy Andersen) At this time Andersen believed the disease was caused by vitamin A deficiency. The 1940’s brought a decade full of altering theories about Cystic Fibrosis. Andersen’s vitamin A deficiency theory was contested by many doctors, including herself. In 1946, researchers studied the patterns of the diseases’ inheritance and concluded it was probably caused by the mutation of a single gene. Finally in the 1940’s . Drs. Sidney Farber and Harry Shwachman linked the strange discharge of mucus to the disease.

The 1950’s was a decade that marked new advancements in diagnosis techniques of the disease. The most prominent technique was the sweat test developed by DR. Paul di Sant’ Agnese, in New York, during the heat wave of 1953. Along with new diagnosis...
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