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Cystic Fibrosis

Could a Sweat Test be Wrong?

03/11/2010

Question:

My son has had respiratory problems since he was six months old and admitted to hospital several times. He also suffers with greasy bowel movements, bloated tummy and upset tummy on a regular basis and poor growth. He had the sweat test when he was 2-years-old which came back negative. He has also been tested for celiac disease twice which also came back negative. He has recently been diagnosed with nasal polyps and the doctors have referred him to be tested again. Should I be worried that the first sweat test was wrong?

Answer:

Unfortunately, there is no test that can't be wrong.  Particularly, as I am sure you have noticed, your youngster has some features that are commonly seen in CF. It is most appropriate that the test get repeated to be sure he is not missing out on treatments that might help him stay healthy, grow well and minimize the impact of infection. 

It is important to be sure that a sweat test is done according to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation guidelines, in an accredited center with enough experience at doing the test to optimize the accuracy.  You want an answer to this angst producing test and you want it to be the correct answer.

Since I cannot know where you are located, you should check with the CF Foundation nationally, www. cff.org to find out whether your center is such a center.  I wish you the best of luck in your search.

For more information:

Go to the Cystic Fibrosis health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Karen S McCoy, MD Karen S McCoy, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Professor at the School of Allied Medical Professionals
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University