Cystic fibrosis (also known as CF, mucovoidosis, or mucoviscidosis) is a genetic disorder known to be an inherited disease of the secretory glands, including the glands that make mucus and sweat.
The hallmarks of cystic fibrosis are salty tasting skin, normal appetite but poor growth and poor weight gain, excess mucus production, and coughing/shortness of breath. Males can be infertile due to the condition Congenital absence of the vas deferens. Often, symptoms of CF appear in infancy and childhood. Meconium ileus is a typical finding in newborn babies with CF.
Although technically a rare disease, cystic fibrosis is ranked as one of the most widespread life-shortening genetic diseases. It is most common among nations in the Western world; one in twenty-two people of Mediterranean descent is a carrier of one gene for CF, making it the most common genetic disease in these populations. An exception is Finland, where only one in 80 people carry a CF mutation. In the United States, 1 in 4,000 children are born with CF. In 1997, about 1 in 3,300 caucasian children in the United States was born with cystic fibrosis. In contrast, only 1 in 15,000 African American children suffered from cystic fibrosis, and in Asian Americans the rate was even lower at 1 in 32,000.