Cystic fibrosis is a chronic genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 people in the United States and about 400 people in the state of Alabama. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce thick, sticky mucus. This mucus can clog the lungs, leading to life-threatening lung infections, and obstruct the pancreas, stopping natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. It is a recessive genetic disease, only occurring when a child inherits two mutated copies of the CF gene, one from each parent.
In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in treatment and research have extended the life expectancy of CF patients to approximately 37 years old, with many living beyond that.
Other CF Facts:
- About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed each year.
- About 10 million Americans (or 1 in every 31) are symptomless carriers of the CF gene.
- CF is most common in Caucasians, but it can affect all races.
- The severity of the disease differs greatly from person to person.
- Since 2008 the state of Alabama has screened for CF in the newborn screening process, so most people are now diagnosed within weeks of birth.
- Daily CF treatments can include: taking pancreatic enzymes with every meal and snacks, taking multi-vitamins and other medications, doing some form of airway clearance (chest PT) at least once but up to four times a day, and taking aerosolized medications