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HealthInfo Canterbury

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited (genetic) condition that causes the body's mucus to be thicker and stickier than normal. This causes blockages in tiny tubes within the body.

The lungs are most affected, causing lung infections. Other organs such as the pancreas and sweat glands can also be affected.

If you have CF, you have two copies of the faulty gene (one from each parent) that causes the problem in your cells.

People who only have one copy of the gene are carriers. A carrier won't develop cystic fibrosis. But if two carriers have a child together, there's a one in four chance the child will develop cystic fibrosis.

In New Zealand, babies are screened at birth for cystic fibrosis with a heel-prick test. The midwife who delivered the baby usually performs this test.

Sometimes, a child or adult is diagnosed later when they have problems such as lots of chest infections or not gaining weight as expected.

Cystic fibrosis can have a wide range of effects. Some people have very few symptoms while others need much more medical care.

There are a number of treatments for the symptoms of CF. New gene replacement treatments are becoming available.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by community respiratory physician, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed June 2021.


Page reference: 53622

Review key: HICYF-53622