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Cystic fibrosis - medical information

  • Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the UK's commonest life-threatening inherited disease.
  • Cystic fibrosis affects over 8,000 babies, children and young adults in the UK.
  • One in every 2,500 babies is born with cystic fibrosis.

Causes of cystic fibrosis
Over two million people in the UK carry the faulty gene that causes cystic fibrosis (CF) - around 1 in 25 of the population.
If two carriers have a child, the baby has a 1 in 4 chance of having cystic fibrosis.

Symptoms of cystic fibrosis

  • Cystic fibrosis causes the body to produce thick secretions that particularly affect the lungs and digestive tract.
  • It is common for people with cystic fibrosis to encounter some difficulties with their lungs.
  • A combination of physiotherapy and medication can help control lung infections and prevent lung damage.
  • Cystic fibrosis affects the pancreas, which makes it difficult for people with CF to digest food.
  • This can cause malnutrition, which can lead to poor growth, physical weakness and delayed puberty.
  • There is medication that can compensate for the failure of the pancreas.

Treatments for cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a multi-system disease requiring a variety of treatments to ensure the effective management of the disease.

  • Physiotherapy - to help reduce and get rid of infection.
  • Exercise - to improve health in general and to reduce use of medication.
  • Medication - inhaled and intravenous drugs taken to clear mucus and fight infections.
  • Nutrition - enzyme tablets to help digest food and dietetic information.
  • To avoid the risk of cross-infection, it is recommended that people with cystic fibrosis do not come into close contact with others with CF.

Life expectancy
Around half of the CF population can expect to live over 35 years, and new developments in treatments mean a baby born today could expect to live longer. Cystic fibrosis is one of the UK's most common life-threatening inherited diseases.

14 year old Lauren Hutchins talks about living with CF.

(video from NHS Choices YouTube channel)

A short film from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust to help children with cystic fibrosis understand their condition and to explain to other children what cystic fibrosis is.