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What is CF?

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs in the body, particularly the lungs and pancreas. When mucus clogs the lungs, it can make breathing very difficult. The thick mucus also causes bacteria (or germs) to get stuck in the airways, which causes inflammation (or swelling) and infections that lead to lung damage.

Mucus also can block the digestive tract and pancreas. The mucus stops digestive enzymes from getting to the intestines. The body needs these enzymes to break down food, which provides important nutrients to help people grow and stay healthy. People with cystic fibrosis often need to replace these enzymes with medicine they take with their meals and snacks, which helps them digest food and get proper nutrition.

IIn 1955, children with CF were not expected to live long enough to attend grade school. Today, thanks to continued Foundation-supported research and specialized care, an increasing number of people with cystic fibrosis are living into adulthood and leading healthier lives that include careers, marriage and families of their own.

Statistics
-Currently, there is no cure for CF.
-About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed each year.
-More than 70% of patients are diagnosed by age two.
-More than 40% of the CF patient population is age 18 or older.
-The predicted median age of survival for a person with CF is more than 37 years.

Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including:
-very salty-tasting skin
-persistent coughing, at times with phlegm
-frequent lung infections
-wheezing or shortness of breath
-poor growth/weight gain in spite of a good appetite
-frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty in bowel movements.


Life Expectancy Through The Years
Due to new drugs and more therapies, the life expectancy of someone with CF has grown drastically in the last few decades.  Here's a snapshot of how the CF life expectancy has changed:

1950: 1 year old
1960: 10 years old
1970: 16 years old
1980: 18 years old
1990: 29 years old
2000: 32 years old
2004: 35.1 years old
2006: 36.9 years old
2007: 37.4 years old


*The above information is from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, www.cff.org.