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Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (also known as CF, mucovoidosis, or mucoviscidosis) is a hereditary disease affecting the exocrine (mucus) glands of the lungs, liver, pancreas, and intestines, causing progressive disability due to multisystem failure.

Thick mucus production results in frequent lung infections. Diminished secretion of pancreatic enzymes is the main cause of poor growth, fatty diarrhea, and deficiency in fat-soluble vitamins. Males can be infertile due to the condition congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens. Often, symptoms of CF appear in infancy and childhood. Meconium ileus is a typical finding in newborn babies with CF.

Individuals with cystic fibrosis can be diagnosed prior to birth by genetic testing. Newborn screening tests are increasingly common and effective (although false positives may occur, and children need to be brought in for a sweat test to distinguish disease vs carrier status). The diagnosis of CF may be confirmed if high levels of salt are found during a sweat test, although some false positives may occur.

There is no cure for CF, and most individuals with cystic fibrosis die young: many in their 20s and 30s from lung failure. However, with the continuous introduction of many new treatments, the life expectancy of a person with CF is increasing to ages as high as 40 or 50. Lung transplantation is often necessary as CF worsens.

Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common life-shortening, childhood-onset inherited diseases. In the United States, 1 in 3,900 children are born with CF[1]. It is most common among western European populations and Ashkenazi Jews; one in twenty-two people of Mediterranean descent are carriers of one gene for CF, making it the most common genetic disease in these populations. Ireland has the highest rate of CF carriers in the world (1 in 19).


The article above is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cystic fibrosis".