Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) affects the microscopic cells of the respiratory system called cilia. The cilia help clear mucus from the lungs. People affected by PCD can't clear this mucus, which can lead to recurrent respiratory tract infections that can damage the passages leading from the windpipe to the lungs; these infections can be life-threatening.
Approximately half of people with PCD have a mirror-image reversal of their internal organs, in which, for example, the heart is on the right side of the body instead of on the left.
Males with PCD often experience infertility due to sperm that do not move properly. Infertility and increased chance of ectopic pregnancy sometimes occurs in females with PCD, likely due to abnormal cilia in the fallopian tubes. Treatment is focused on managing the individual's symptoms.
As humans we have about 23,000 genes. These genes are like tiny instruction manuals that influence our health, growth and development. We inherit half of our genes from our biological mum and the other half from our biological dad. These genes are lined up on structures called chromosomes. Most of us have 23 pairs of chromosomes. The first 22 pairs are called autosomes and for the most part - these are the same among men and women. The 23rd pair determine our sex - two X chromosomes for a female and one X and one Y chromosome for males.
primary ciliary dyskinesia (DNAH5-related) is known as an autosomal recessive condition. For autosomal recessive conditions, if a person has a variation in one copy of their gene, they are a carrier. This means that they are healthy because they also have a working copy of the gene. But, they can still pass their non-working copy to their child.
If the other parent also happens to be a carrier of the same gene, there is a 25% (1 in 4) chance that they both pass this gene variation on to their child — and as such, have a child affected by the disease.
If both parents are carriers of primary ciliary dyskinesia (DNAH5-related), there’s a one in four chance that their children could develop symptoms.
Carrier testing is like a checkup for your genes. It tests to see if you carry a gene variation that could cause a serious genetic disease in your child. Eugene offers an inclusive genetic carrier screening panel that includes primary ciliary dyskinesia (DNAH5-related), but there's a total 301 conditions that can be tested.
Eugene’s carrier test is a clinical grade test that can be done from the comfort of your own home — it’s just a saliva test. You're also paired with a genetic counsellor who provides mindful support and guidance every step of the way.Learn more about carrier screening
The biggest benefit of screening for primary ciliary dyskinesia (DNAH5-related) is that it can help future parents understand their reproductive risk so they can be ready and empowered to make more informed decisions. If neither partner are carriers, it provides reassurance and peace of mind that the risk of having a child with a genetic disease is low.
Since 90% of children that have a recessive genetic disease like primary ciliary dyskinesia (DNAH5-related) had no previous family history of it, it often feels completely out of the blue for the parents. Getting screened is a way to know this risk in advance, which can help familes manage or even prevent the disease in the first place.