Cystic Fibrosis Special Needs Factsheet

Cystic Fibrosis Special Needs Factsheet

What Teachers Should Know

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and digestive system. More than 30,000 kids, teens, and young adults in the United States have CF.

The CF gene disrupts the essential balance of salt and water needed to maintain a normal thin coating of fluid and mucus inside the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. The mucus becomes thick, sticky, and hard to move. Normally, mucus in the lungs traps germs, which are then cleared out of the lungs. But in CF, the thick, sticky mucus and the germs it traps remain in the lungs, which can become infected.

In the pancreas, thick mucus blocks enzymes from reaching the intestines to digest nutrients properly, especially fats. That's why students with CF have problems gaining weight, and have to eat more. There currently is no cure for CF.

CF does not affect cognitive or learning abilities.

Students with CF may:

What Teachers Can Do

Students with CF may miss class time or be absent due to breathing therapy at home, lung infections, doctor visits, and hospital stays. Your students with CF need special considerations regarding missed instruction, assignments, and testing.

Being active can help loosen mucus in the lungs. Students with CF should be encouraged to participate in physical exercise, sports, and other school activities.

To help students with CF avoid lung infections, encourage all your students to wash their hands with soap and water or sanitizer after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, or playing outside at recess.

Make sure your students with CF know they can:

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





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Related Resources
Web SiteFamily Voices This website brings together families who have children with special health needs.
OrganizationCystic Fibrosis Foundation This organization offers information about the illness, public policy, clinical trials and local chapters.
OrganizationAmerican Lung Association The mission of this group is to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Contact the group at: American Lung Association
61 Broadway, 6th Floor
NY, NY 10006
(212) 315-8700
OrganizationBoomer Esiason Foundation This former NFL quarterback has a personal interest in CF - his son has the disease - and has created this foundation to help find a cure.
OrganizationParent Teacher Association (PTA) The PTA encourages parental involvement in public schools.
Web SiteU.S. Department of Education This government site offers advice, links, homework help, and information for parents, teachers, and students.
Web SiteKidsHealth in the Classroom Free PreK-12 lesson plans, aligned to National Health Education Standards and based on expert-approved, age-appropriate articles.
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