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About Cystic Fibrosis

About CF

What Is Cystic Fibrosis? 

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. An estimated 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide) have CF.


Quick Facts about CF

In the United States:

  • About 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year.

  • More than 75 percent of people with CF are
    diagnosed by age 2.

  • Nearly half of the CF population is age 18 or older.

In people with CF, a defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that:
  • Clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections.

  • Obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down food and absorb vital nutrients.

In the 1950s, few children with CF lived to attend elementary school. Since then, tremendous progress in understanding and treating CF has led to dramatic improvements in the length and quality of life for those with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.

Symptoms of CF

People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Very salty-tasting skin
  • Persistent coughing, at times with phlegm
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Poor growth and slow weight gain, in spite of a good appetite
  • Frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty in bowel movements

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

A nonprofit, donor-supported organization, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the world’s leader in the search for a cure for CF. The Foundation funds lifesaving research and works to provide access to quality, specialized care and effective treatments for people with CF.

Nearly every CF drug available today was made possible because of Foundation support. Through its efforts, the life expectancy of a child with CF has doubled in the last 30 years, and research to find a cure is more promising than ever before.

Updated: 5/1/2014

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