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Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD)?

PCD is a disorder that affects the cilia in your child's body. Cilia are hair-like structures around cells that normally move like waves. Cilia in the lungs, ears, and sinuses normally carry mucus out. When mucus cannot be carried out, it sits in your child's airway. Bacteria in the mucus increase, leading to lung infections or respiratory failure. Your child may have fertility problems (trouble having children) later in life. PCD can keep certain parts of the reproductive system from working correctly. PCD is a genetic disorder (passed from both parents to the child).

What are the signs and symptoms of PCD?

How is PCD diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's signs and symptoms and when they began. PCD might be diagnosed based on your child's signs and symptoms. Examples are a constant cough or infections that antibiotics do not clear up. Tell your child's provider if he or she had respiratory distress as a newborn. Some conditions can look like PCD, such as cystic fibrosis. Children are sometimes given tests to rule this out. Tests may be available to help confirm PCD:

How is PCD treated?

PCD cannot be cured, but treatment can help your child control signs and symptoms.

What can I do to manage my child's symptoms?

Tell your child's healthcare provider right away when he or she has signs of a respiratory infection. Early treatment may help control the infection so it does not become severe. The following can help you and your child manage PCD and protect his or her airway:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I call my child's pediatrician?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.