Diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis in Screened Populations

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Abstract

Objective

Cystic fibrosis (CF) can be difficult to diagnose, even when newborn screening (NBS) tests yield positive results. This challenge is exacerbated by the multitude of NBS protocols, misunderstandings about screening vs diagnostic tests, and the lack of guidelines for presumptive diagnoses. There is also confusion regarding the designation of age at diagnosis.

Study design

To improve diagnosis and achieve standardization in definitions worldwide, the CF Foundation convened a committee of 32 experts with a mission to develop clear and actionable consensus guidelines on diagnosis of CF with an emphasis on screened populations, especially the newborn population. A comprehensive literature review was performed with emphasis on relevant articles published during the past decade.

Results

After reviewing the common screening protocols and outcome scenarios, 14 of 27 consensus statements were drafted that apply to screened populations. These were approved by 80% or more of the participants.

Conclusions

It is recommended that all diagnoses be established by demonstrating dysfunction of the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) channel, initially with a sweat chloride test and, when needed, potentially with newer methods assessing membrane transport directly, such as intestinal current measurements. Even in babies with 2 CF-causing mutations detected via NBS, diagnosis must be confirmed by demonstrating CFTR dysfunction. The committee also recommends that the latest classifications identified in the Clinical and Functional Translation of CFTR project [http://www.cftr2.org/index.php] should be used to aid with CF diagnosis. Finally, to avoid delays in treatment, we provide guidelines for presumptive diagnoses and recommend how to determine the age of diagnosis.

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