Objective: To quantitate the proportion of infants identified through cystic fibrosis (CF) newborn screening (NBS) by an immunoreactive trypsinogen (IRT)/DNA screening algorithm who have an unclear diagnosis as defined by the findings of an elevated IRT level and either 1) 2 CF gene (CFTR) mutations detected and sweat chloride level <60 mEq/L; or 2) 0 or 1 CFTR mutations and a "borderline" sweat chloride level >or=30 and <60 mEq/L.
Study design: Using the 4-year cohort of CF-affected infants recently described by the Massachusetts CF NBS program, we identified and described the number of infants with the diagnostic characteristics (diagnostic dilemmas) aforementioned.
Results: Of infants with positive results on CF NBS who had 1 CFTR mutation detected and a borderline sweat chloride concentration, nearly 20% displayed a second CFTR mutation on further evaluation. Of all infants with positive CF NBS results considered affected with CF, 11% had a diagnosis that fell into 1 of the diagnostic dilemma categories aforementioned.
Conclusions: Four problematic diagnostic categories generated by CF NBS are defined. In the absence of data on the natural history of such infants, careful follow-up is recommended for infants in whom a definitive diagnosis is elusive.