Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to make thick, sticky mucus that:
- clogs the lungs and leads to lung-damaging infections; and
- blocks the pancreas and stops the body from being able to break down and absorb food.
CF does not affect many things. It does not cause mental retardation or learning problems. It is not cerebral palsy (sometimes called CP). It does not mean a person will have to use a wheelchair.
Babies with CF grow, develop and do what other babies do. Children with CF go to school, play sports and get their driver’s licenses. They can go to college, have successful careers, get married and have children.
One mom of two kids with CF describes it this way:
“CF is a genetic disease that causes thick, sticky mucus throughout the body. People with CF, including babies, can have a hard time getting enough nutrition because of problems with the digestion of their food. The mucus also causes lung problems. The average life expectancy is in the mid-30s and climbing fast due to great medical advances. I have a lot of hope that my kids will outlive me. However, their health depends on many things, including how well they take care of themselves. To me, CF is no longer a death sentence; it’s something that our family simply lives with in order to live life well.”
Learn More About Cystic Fibrosis