Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited genetic disease that changes the way the body produces mucus, sweat and digestive juices. Instead of smooth and slippery, these secretions are unusually thick and sticky in people with CF. This can clog up tubes and passageways in the body, causing damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs.

Screening of newborns for cystic fibrosis now happens in every state. As a result, the condition is diagnosed earlier than it has been in the past. If you’ve recently learned that your child has CF, then you probably have a lot of questions about what the diagnosis means for your child’s future.

The SLUCare Physician Group pulmonary medicine experts at the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital Cystic Fibrosis Center understand the unique challenges faced by a family when a child is diagnosed with CF. We are committed to providing the highest level of patient care and actively researching ways to improve the treatment outcomes for our patients.

Signs and Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis can cause symptoms throughout the body, but most frequently affects the lungs and pancreas. The most common symptoms include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Nasal polyps
  • Repeated lung infections
  • Shortness of breath
  • Salty-tasting skin and sweat
  • Bowel blockage
  • Poor growth
  • Frequent bulky, greasy, foul-smelling stools
  • Gas and stomach pain

Diagnosing Cystic Fibrosis

All newborns are screened for cystic fibrosis before they leave the hospital. If doctors suspects your child may have CF, they will order a sweat test that measures how much salt is in your child’s sweat. A high level of salt is a sign of CF. You doctor may also order tests, such as blood tests, chest x-rays, pulmonary function tests, sputum cultures and stool evaluations to get a complete picture of your child’s health.

Once your child is diagnosed with CF, the team at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital will create a treatment plan designed to promote growth, ease symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, and provide emotional and social support to your family. While there is currently no cure for CF, advances in medical therapies have improved the outlook and quality of life for children with CF. Most children with CF can attend school and participate in activities, although lung disease eventually worsens as they reach adulthood.

About the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital Cystic Fibrosis Center

Our nationally recognized center is located at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, with an adult program based at Saint Louis University Hospital located right next door. This allows us to easily transition patients as they grow. Our team of experts is committed to providing personalized care to our patients. In addition, we are actively involved in clinical research to improve the therapies available to treat cystic fibrosis.

Named as TDN team by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The Cystic Fibrosis Center is named as a Therapeutics Development Network (TDN) team by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The TDN is a network that includes the most current and best practices in Cystic Fibrosis research around the nation. We're proud of our nationally recognized Cystic Fibrosis Center and are excited to bring the best care to our patients through personalized approach and treatment.

Please call the Cystic Fibrosis Center at 314-268-4107 for more information or to schedule an appointment. While a cystic fibrosis diagnosis can be overwhelming, our team is here to support you every step of the way.

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