Children born with cystic fibrosis can live with a lot of limitations, but doctors say an active lifestyle can help patients manage the symptoms caused by the disease.
Evan and Brent Baker can be found in the pool six days a week. Both in and out of the pool the twins keep an active lifestyle, one, mom Karey Baker says, is needed to keep them healthy. “It’s hard to balance keeping them healthy and not restricting them from being normal 12 year boys.”
At 15 months old the twins were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic mutation that affects cells that impact mucus, sweat, and digestion. “It’s challenging. When they’re well and there’s no sickness involved, there’s three hours of breathing treatments every single day, an hour and half in the morning and an hour and a half at night. The common cold could put them in the hospital. The flu could kill them,” said Karey.
Dr. Patrick Maeng, a pediatric pulmonologist with Lee Health, says patients with CF can develop chronic lung infections, are easily dehydrated, and can develop problems in their liver and pancreas. “We encourage high fat, high protein, high calorie diet. The better their weight status, the healthier their lungs will be, and the longer their survival rate is going to be. Exercise can have a huge benefit to their lung health. very vigorous aerobic exercise can sometimes take place of their treatments.”
“When we were little my mom put us in the pool and we started swimming and my mom said they’re swimmers,” said Brent.
In addition to their active lifestyle, the twins also consume a lot of calories. “We have protein shakes after practices, then a vegetable shake in the afternoon, and then at night we have a chocolate protein shake,” said Evan.
The boys are as committed to their treatments and nutrition as they are to their swimming. Both share a similar dream of one day finding a cure for cystic fibrosis and swimming in the Olympics.
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