Developmental Disabilities

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is a heredity, chronic disorder which causes severe respiratory and digestive problems.  The mucous glands in the lungs or the digestive system produce abnormally thick, gluey mucus that may clog the breathing tubes.  The pancreas and liver are often affected.

What is cystic fibrosis?

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Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease of the mucus glands that affects many body systems. The disorder's most common signs and symptoms include progressive damage to the respiratory system and chronic digestive system problems.

Mucus is a slippery substance that lubricates and protects the linings of the airways, digestive system, reproductive system, and other organs and tissues. In people with cystic fibrosis, the body produces mucus that is abnormally thick and sticky. This abnormal mucus can obstruct the airways, leading to severe problems with breathing and bacterial infections in the lungs. These infections cause chronic coughing, wheezing, and inflammation. Over time, mucus buildup and infections result in permanent lung damage, including the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) and cysts in the lungs.

Most people with cystic fibrosis also have digestive problems because thick, sticky mucus interferes with the function of the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ that produces insulin (a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels). It also makes enzymes that help digest food. In people with cystic fibrosis, mucus blocks the ducts of the pancreas, preventing these enzymes from reaching the intestines to aid digestion. Problems with digestion can lead to diarrhea, malnutrition, poor growth, and weight loss. Some babies with cystic fibrosis have meconium ileus, a blockage of the intestine that occurs shortly after birth.

Cystic fibrosis used to be considered a fatal disease of childhood. With improved treatments and better ways to manage the disease, many people with cystic fibrosis now live well into adulthood. Adults with cystic fibrosis experience medical problems affecting the respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems. For example, most men with cystic fibrosis are unable to father children (infertile) because the tubes that carry sperm (the vas deferens) are blocked by mucus and do not develop properly. This condition is known as congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD). Infertility is also possible, though less common, in women with cystic fibrosis.


Cystic Fibrosis is a hereditary disease that causes chronic severe respiratory and digestive issues. A thick mucus may clog the breathing tubes.  The organs affected by this disease are the pancreas and liver.

Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis are:  stomach pain, pot belly appearance, vomit with clear mucus, salty skin, weight loss, hunger, respiratory infections, strong smelling bowel movements, cough and wheezy breathing.

Things you can do: accept the child and treat as normal as possible, have other activities ready in case the child can’t do what peers are doing and find ways to include the child with peer activities.

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