Practicable methods are now available for whole population screening of neonates for cystic fibrosis. Although diagnosis and treatment of the disease from birth has not yet been unequivocally shown to improve prognosis, existing evidence suggests that this is likely. Further ethical reasons are proposed in support of neonatal diagnosis and early treatment. The development of tests for prenatal diagnosis and carrier detection is under active investigation, and raises ethical problems for heterozygotes and their medical advisers. The heavy financial and emotional burden this disease imposes on the patient and the family should not be underestimated when policy decisions are made.
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