Things You Should Know Before Getting Pregnant With Cystic Fibrosis

Things you should consider if you have cystic fibrosis

Pregnant woman sitting in doctor's office
Hero Images/Getty Images

Cystic fibrosis is no longer a disease exclusive to childhood. Many people with cystic fibrosis lead productive lives into adulthood, and some of them have children of their own. Most men with cystic fibrosis are usually sterile. Around 95 percent of men with CF are missing their vas deferens, the tube that connects the testes to the urethra.

Unlike men with CF, most women are able to conceive. Many women with cystic fibrosis who get pregnant are able to carry their pregnancy to term.

There are many things to think about for any couple who is planning to have children. However, when one of the potential parents has cystic fibrosis, there are extra things to consider. Here are a few of the things you'll want to know when planning your family

Understanding Your Child's Risk of Inheriting Cystic Fibrosis 

If you have cystic fibrosis, that means you have two defective copies of the CFTR gene. You will pass one of those on to your child. Your baby will either be a carrier or have cystic fibrosis disease, depending on the gene he or she gets from your partner.

  • If your partner has two normal CFTR genes, your baby will have one defective gene from you and one normal gene from your partner. This child will be a cystic fibrosis carrier.
  • If your partner has one normal and one defective CFTR gene, he is a carrier. Your baby will have a 50 percent chance of having cystic fibrosis disease and 50 percent chance of being a carrier, depending on which gene the baby inherits from your partner.

    Genetic testing to find out if your partner is a carrier is widely available and can help you make informed decisions about having children together. There are other options beyond pregnancy for those looking to expand their families. Using an egg or sperm donor or adopting can also complete your family.


    Pregnancy Challenges for Cystic Fibrosis Patients

    The strain of pregnancy can complicate cystic fibrosis. Complications that are common in pregnant women with CF include:

    Increased difficulty breathing. Decreased lung function can be deadly for those with cystic fibrosis. This is the most serious risk of pregnancy for women with CF.

    Increased respiratory infections. Decreased lung function can cause respiratory infections, which will make it even harder to breathe.

    Diabetes Body changes during pregnancy can cause healthy women to have diabetes. The risk is even greater in women with cystic fibrosis because of the damage CF causes to the pancreas.

    Malnutrition.  Pregnancy further increases the body’s energy requirement, making adequate nutrition even more difficult to maintain.

    Women with CF usually do better with pregnancy when it is planned, because they receive close monitoring from the beginning. Your cystic fibrosis specialists are experts on your condition and you should talk to them to find out if you are healthy enough to withstand the strain of pregnancy.

    If you are pregnant, you should stop taking any A, D, E, or K vitamins you may be on. Instead switch to prenatal vitamins with supplemental Vitamin E. Antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones and tetracyclines should also be stopped. 


    Edenborough, F., et al. (2008). Guidelines for the management of pregnancy in women with cystic fibrosis. Journal of Cystic Fibrosis.(7)S2-S32.

    Continue Reading