Cystic Fibrosis

By Kaitlyn Holt

What causes CF?

CF is inherited. Your baby has to inherit a gene change for CF from both parents to have CF. If she inherits the gene change from just one parent, she has the gene change for CF, but she doesn’t have the condition. When this happens, your baby is called a CF carrier.
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Characteristics of CF

Babies with CF have very thick and sticky mucus that builds up in the body. When this mucus builds up in the lungs, it blocks airways and causes breathing problems and infections. As a baby with CF gets older, lung infections can get worse. This can lead to serious, and sometimes deadly, lung damage.

When mucus builds up in the digestive system, it blocks tubes in the pancreas. This can make it hard for the body’s digestives system to break down food. When this happens, your baby may not get the nutrients she needs to grow and stay healthy.

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If your baby has CF, medicines like antibiotics often cannot get rid of all the bacteria in his lungs. These infections can lead to lung damage.

Depending on how severe your baby's condition is depends on the types of medications your child will take. Medicines used for CF include:

  • Mucus-thinners. Medicines like PulmozymeÒ (Dnase) help thin mucus, making it easier to cough out.
  • Bronchodilators. These medicines help open the airways to clear mucus from the lungs. Examples are AlbuterolÒ, ProventilÒ and VentolinÒ.
  • Antibiotics. These are medicines that kill infections caused by bacteria. TOBIÒ (tobramycin) is a common inhaled antibiotic, and azithromycin is a common antibiotic taken by mouth.
  • Ibuprofen. This medicine can help reduce lung redness and swelling that make breathing difficult.
  • Hypertonic saline. Inhaling this salt-water mist helps draw more water into the airways. This helps thin the mucus.

Life Expectancy

The average American with cystic fibrosis will live to be about 37 or 38. However, some people are starting to live much longer - and that number is continuing to rise.
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Facts about CF

  • According to the data collected by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, there are about 30,000 Americans, 3,000 Canadians, and 20,000 Europeans with Cystic Fibrosis.
  • About 1 in every 20 Americans is an unaffected carrier of an abnormal "CF gene." These 12 million people are usually unaware that they are carriers.
  • CF can cause various other medical problems. Including, inusitis, nasal polyps, clubbing, pneumothorax, hemoptysis, cor pulmonale, abdominal pain and discomfort, gassiness, and rectal prolapse, liver disease, diabetes, inflammation of the pancreas, and gallstones also occur in some people with CF.