Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

What is cystic fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder characterized by the buildup of thick, sticky mucus that can damage many of the body's organs, including the respiratory system, digestive system and reproductive system. In people with cystic fibrosis, a defective gene causes the abnormal mucus secretions to become sticky and thick. Instead of acting as a lubricant, the mucus can clog up tubes, ducts and passageways, especially in the lungs. The clogged airways can lead to severe problems with breathing and bacterial infections in the lungs. These infections cause chronic coughing, wheezing, and inflammation, resulting in permanent lung damage, including the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) and cysts in the lungs.
In people with cystic fibrosis, mucus can also block the ducts of the pancreas, reducing the production of insulin and preventing digestive enzymes from reaching the intestines to aid digestion. 
Risk factors
  • Family history. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder and can be passed down to children. 
  • Race. CF is most common in Caucasians.
Routine screening of newborns are performed to detect for cystic fibrosis. Screening tests include:
  • Blood tests. A blood sample is checked for higher than normal levels of a chemical (immunoreactive trypsinogen, or IRT) released by the pancreas. 
  • Genetic tests. Doctors may conduct genetic tests to test for specific defects of the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis.
Research is being done to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, however no such cure yet exists. Screening newborns for the disease is available and can aid in recovery through early treatments, which aim to ease symptoms and reduce complications. 
  • Approximately 30,000 people have cystic fibrosis in the United States.
  • Approximately 1 in 31 people in the U.S. are carriers of the CF gene.
  • 1,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, with males and females affected in equal numbers. 
  • Cystic fibrosis affects about 1 in 17,000 African Americans and 1 in 31,000 Asian Americans.
  • The disorder affects approximately 1 of every 3,200 live Caucasian births.
  • Due to improved treatments, people with cystic fibrosis, on average, live into their mid to late 30s.
about cystic fibrosis (CF)

  •  "Cystic Fibrosis - Genetics Home Reference." U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 20 June 2017.
  • "Cystic Fibrosis." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 13 Oct. 2016. Web. 20 June 2017.
  • "Cystic Fibrosis." Cystic Fibrosis - NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), n.d. Web. 20 June 2017.
  • "Cystic Fibrosis." Cystic Fibrosis | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. John Hopkins Health System, n.d. Web. 20 June 2017.



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