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Understanding Cystic Fibrosis in Central California

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a disorder in which the body produces abnormally thick mucus that clogs the lungs and blocks necessary digestive enzymes from reaching the intestines. This hereditary condition — passed from parents to children — makes infections more likely and causes difficulty breathing.

At Dignity Health Central California, we are committed to the health of every member of your growing family. To find out if you are a carrier of the abnormal gene associated with cystic fibrosis, talk to one of our experts about genetic screening.

Find a Doctor who specializes in the treatment of cystic fibrosis in Central California.


Common Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis

In the US, every newborn baby is screened for CF. Early diagnosis and treatment helps to avoid serious CF symptoms, such as:

  • Coughing or spitting up mucus
  • Constipation
  • Frequent coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Wheezing
  • Saltier-than-normal sweat
  • Poor growth

If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your child or newborn, see your Dignity Health Central California pediatrician right away.


What Causes Cystic Fibrosis?

CF is a genetic disorder caused by a mutated (abnormal) gene passed on to children from their parents. Both parents must be carriers of the abnormal gene for the condition to be present in the child.

There are many types of mutations that cause cystic fibrosis. Medical research has uncovered new therapies for some specific types of mutations that cause CF.


Cystic Fibrosis Treatment at Dignity Health Central California

There is no cure for cystic fibrosis. However, knowing your and your partner’s genetic history can help determine the risk of conceiving a child with CF. For example, if both parents carry the genetic mutation associated with CF, the odds of having a child with the disorder is one in four (or 25 percent).

There are a number of available treatments for CF, including: 

  • Medications. They can help prevent and treat lung infections, thin mucus, aid digestion, and improve breathing.
  • Targeted therapy. Ivacaftor (Kalydeco), an FDA-approved drug, can improve the functioning of the abnormal gene protein with specific mutations. Additional therapies are under development.
  • Chest physical therapy. Mucus is loosened from lung walls with the help of a vibrating device or cupped hands, making it easier to cough up. This therapy should be used several times a day. Removing mucus from the lungs helps breathing and lowers the risk of infection.
  • Nutritional supplements. These can improve intake of needed vitamins, encourage growth, and support good health.

Early diagnosis and advances in treatment have helped increase the life expectancy for people with cystic fibrosis. Many people with CF now live into their 30s or 40s.

Are you expecting the arrival of your newborn? Talk to your doctor about what steps you can take to ensure the health of your baby.

Dignity Health Central California provides advanced treatment for fetal conditions like cystic fibrosis in Bakersfield, Merced, and Stockton, CA.