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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 22:42 GMT
Brown's son has cystic fibrosis
Gordon and Sarah Brown with baby James Fraser
Gordon and Sarah Brown pictured after baby James Fraser's birth
Chancellor Gordon Brown has confirmed that his four-month-old son has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

A spokesman for Mr Brown said he and his wife Sarah were told in late July that Fraser may have the genetic disease and tests had now confirmed it.

He added Fraser was "fit, healthy and making all the progress that you would expect any little boy to make".

The couple have one other son, John. Their daughter Jennifer Jane died after being born prematurely in 2002.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening inherited disease which disrupts the way the digestive and respiratory systems work.

Chest infections

The Sun newspaper reported Fraser had been in and out of hospital since his birth with minor chest infections.

Mr Brown's spokesman added: "Thousands of other parents are in the same position.

A child diagnosed at birth and treated immediately should remain quite well
Rosie Barnes
Cystic Fibrosis Trust

"They are confident that the advice and treatments available, including proper exercise and, later, sporting activity will keep him fit and healthy.

"The NHS is doing a great job, and Gordon and Sarah are very optimistic that the advances being made in medicine will help him and many others, and they hope to be able to play their part in doing what they can to help others."

Mr Brown, who is widely tipped as the favourite to succeed Tony Blair when he steps down as prime minister, said after Fraser's birth in July: "I love being a dad. It's great fun and there's nothing more important and there's nothing I enjoy better. "

Medical advances

Cystic Fibrosis Trust chief executive Rosie Barnes said while the disease remained a "very serious medical condition", advances meant the future was much more optimistic than it used to be.

"I believe Fraser was tested at birth for cystic fibrosis so it would be diagnosed just a few weeks after he was born.

Most common inherited life-threatening disease in UK
It affects vital organs - lungs and pancreas
There is currently no cure
More than 7,500 people in UK have CF
70% of those are under 20-years-old
Each week five babies are born with CF
Average life expectancy is 31
Figures from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust

"If that test takes place it's very quick and treatment can start immediately... A child diagnosed at birth and treated immediately should remain quite well."

Ms Barnes said he would have to accept regular medical treatment. She also said that while there were people in their 20s and 30s who were waiting for lung transplants, the treatments today were not available when they were children.

Housing minister Yvette Cooper, a close friend of the Browns along with her husband, Economic Secretary Ed Balls, told the BBC Fraser was a "happy and healthy little boy".

She added: "They are a very strong and happy family, so whilst obviously, it is the same for any parent, it's not the kind of thing you ever want to happen - but they are very optimistic."

Conservative leader David Cameron, whose four-year-old son Ivan has cerebral palsy, said: "Sam and I are thinking of Gordon and Sarah and their family at this time and we send them our best wishes for the future."

A Downing Street spokesman said anything Mr Blair had said to Mr Brown was a private matter.

Profile: Gordon Brown
30 Aug 06 |  UK Politics
Brown relaxed on paternity break
22 Aug 06 |  Edinburgh and East
Browns' new baby James in debut
21 Jul 06 |  Edinburgh and East
Brown names new baby James Fraser
18 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
Brown puts family matters first
07 Dec 03 |  UK Politics
Brown's daughter was 'inspiration'
05 Feb 02 |  Scotland


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