cystic fibrosis

We’ll be back shortly – check back later this summer for new content!

We’re taking some time off to get used to having three kids in the house. Riley’s arrival on June 1 was a blessing and we are doing well. Riley’s happy and healthy. Noah and Katie are proud older siblings. And Julie and I are doing well also.

Check back throughout the summer for some new content. We haven’t forgotten about the site. We’ve just been a bit busy adjusting to being a family of five.
Until we return, feel free to check out our flickr site to see what we’ve been up to for the last month. Here’s a sampling of pics:

Talk soon!
cystic fibrosis

Welcome to Riley John Dow!

Welcome Riley!


Great news – the latest addition to the Dow family has finally arrived. Please welcome Riley John Dow. Riley was born at home on Tuesday June 1 at 9:50am. He weighed in at 9 lbs even. Julie and Riley are both doing fantastic.

Big thanks to the midwife team: Rachel, Colleen and Pilar. They were fantastic. They made the birth such a fantastic, relaxing and enjoyable experience. Well… as relaxing as it can be to be giving birth – keep in mind this being written by Todd, who does not have experience giving birth. 🙂

Rachel, Julie, Riley, Colleen,
Pilar & Jennifer

And big thanks to Julie’s sister Jennifer who assisted as well. Couldn’t have done it without you Jennifer!

You can see a bunch of pics on flickr:
the main photoset
Riley John Dow slide show


Todd, Julie, Noah, Katie and Riley

cystic fibrosis

Should bad genes = no more kids? – Part 5: our choice

In our case, we have chosen to have another child. We have chosen to love this child. We have chosen to care for this child. And we have chosen to face whatever challenges come our way.

And, we will embrace technology to the extent that it can help. Medical research has gone a long way towards understanding cystic fibrosis. A cure remains elusive, but, I am optimistic that a cure will be found.

We look at Katie’s smiling face every day and in spite of the challenges that CF presents, we celebrate her life daily. I couldn’t imagine life without her. Similarly, a few weeks from now, I won’t be able to imagine our family without the new life that we are about to be blessed with.

So I ask again, what would you do? (please do offer comments)


cystic fibrosis

Should bad genes = no more kids? – Part 4: the larger ethical debate

And, when I think about the larger challenge of genetic testing, it makes me wonder where do we stop? In the very near future, genetic testing will provide each of us with a window into our “genetic flaws”. I foresee a day in the not so distant future when we’ll be given a printout after that newborn screening heel prick telling you what to expect in life. It’ll let you know what you might expect as you get older disease-wise, and it’ll also tell you what you might pass on to your children.

This has some serious implications for the next generation: will our kids pick their mates based on genetic makeup? Designer mates, designer babies, designer families.

There is some evidence that “carrier screening” is already making a difference: Carrier screening reduces CF birth rates in northeast Italy

This approach may breed out certain diseases, which would be fantastic. I am all for eradicating disease. But, what are the downsides to this? Are relationships being dissuaded based on genetic tests? Are families being prevented based on “the odds leaning towards an unfavourable genetic condition”?

I agree with the need to minimize disease, but if we based our decisions to procreate on risk factors, then I’d hazard a guess that nobody would have kids. Women in their 30s are at increased risk of having children with down syndrome. Some people lack sufficient financial security to properly feed, clothe and raise children. Pregnancy itself is not without risk. Maternal death is not uncommon in many parts of the world. Thus, the decision to have children in the face of scientific scrutiny is compelling.

I think we’re faced with a couple of options:

  1. We commit to breeding very clinically, leaving nothing to chance. In this case, we have an obligation to use science to intervene at all stages of risk, right back to the point where a couple first meet – I visualize n online dating site with genetic profile comparisons, thus ensuring that only “safe matches” are put together. Anything that deviates from that sterile, clinical decision making process is considered “unclean” or “flawed” and is therefore unsupported. So much for the mystery and magic of love; or
  2. We leave some things in God’s hands, accepting that which we cannot change and doing what we can to fix that which is broken. I am hopeful that finding a cure for CF means more than just “not having kids”.

Next up: Part 5 – our choice