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North Carolina and Nevada Step up Efforts to Screen Newborns for Cystic Fibrosis

Nearly Every State Now Provides Routine Testing for Life-Threatening Disease

August 26, 2008

(Washington, D.C.)— North Carolina has approved legislation to require mandatory screening of all newborns for cystic fibrosis (CF) beginning in January, 2009, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation announced today. Additionally, Nevada began conducting screening after approving the process earlier this year.

The two states join 43 others and the District of Columbia in requiring that all newborns be screened for cystic fibrosis at birth. In addition, Utah will also begin screening in January.

“Newborn screening for cystic fibrosis is critically important because it leads to early diagnosis,” said Robert J. Beall, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “When doctors can diagnose the disease before a child becomes ill, it gives that child a better chance for a healthier and longer life.”

Research studies show that newborn screening for CF will likely improve and extend the lives of those born with the disease. Early intervention has been shown to improve height, weight, nutrition, cognitive and lung functioning, and to reduce hospitalizations. The Foundation strongly urges all states to routinely screen newborns for the disease.

Newborn screening for cystic fibrosis is also important because more than 10 million Americans are symptomless carriers of a cystic fibrosis gene. Most people who have a child with CF are not aware of a family history of the disease.

Cystic fibrosis is a fatal genetic disease that affects 30,000 children and adults in the United States and 70,000 people worldwide. It causes thick mucus to build up in the lungs and other organs, resulting in life-threatening infections and serious digestive complications.

When the Foundation was created in 1955, few children lived to attend elementary school. Today, as a result of dramatic improvements in research and care fueled by the Foundation, the median age of survival for a person with CF is 37 years.

About the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the leading organization in the United States devoted to curing and controlling cystic fibrosis. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., the Foundation has more than 80 chapters and branch offices throughout the country and supports and accredits a nationwide network of 115 care centers, which provide vital treatments and other CF resources to patients and families.

Media Contact

  • Laurie Fink, Director of Media Relations: 301-841-2602; lfink@cff.org 

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The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is an accredited charity of the Better Business Bureau.