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HealthInfo Waitaha 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 will not develop cystic fibrosis. But if two carriers have a tamaiti (child) together, there is a one in four chance the tamaiti will develop cystic fibrosis.

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

Sometimes, a tamaiti 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 several treatments for the symptoms of CF. Most people with CF will be offered cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulator therapy with a medication called Trikafta.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2021.


Page reference: 53622

Review key: HICYF-53622