This defect is inherited and occurs in 1 in 17000 blacks and 1 in 2000 whites and affects the lungs, the liver, the pancreas and the intestines.
The cause is a defective gene that causes the glands in the respiratory and digestive systems to produce thick mucus which block the lungs, digestive system nose and sinuses.
These complications cause life threatening lung disease, an incompetent immune system, exocrine glands, intestines, coughing, wheezing, nasal polyps, poor growth, infertility, pancreas, difficulty breathing and difficult bowel movement. Many symptoms usually appear in infancy and childhood (approximately 75% of the cases are diagnosed by the age of 2 yrs old).
Cystic Fibrosis is evident by abnormally high salt concentrations and abnormally thick mucus in the respiratory tract. This mucus blocks facial (paranasal) sinuses and the abnormal salt content provides the perfect environment for bacteria to growth and results in frequent lung infections.
In most cases, Cystic Fibrosis causes an early death. Average life expectancy is around ± 36 years, although improvements in treatments mean a baby born today could expect to live longer.