Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). In those affected by cystic fibrosis, a defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that:
- Clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections
- Obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food
In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with cystic fibrosis. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.