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Cystic Fibrosis


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary condition that usually causes problems or affects the mucus producing cells of the human body, and in effect causing problems to the digestive, respiratory and other vital systems of the human body (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006). Essentially, the disease affects the lungs, liver, pancreas, sex organs and sinuses. It causes sticky mucus to form in the pancreas, lungs and other organs. Consequently, in the organs such as the lungs the mucus blocks the airways leading to lung damage, causing difficulties in breathing and resulting into very serious infections of the lungs (Watson, 2007). The mucus affects the pancreas by clogging and blocking the pathways leading to the digestive system thus impairing the digestion process. With time, the condition results into progressive disability and eventually death.  Research suggests that in over 90% of cystic fibrosis cases, the airways are affected. The symptoms of the disorder vary from one individual to the other. The most notable symptoms include the production or abnormally thick and sticky mucus in the pancreas and in the lungs. The main thrust of this research paper is to provide an explicit and detailed analysis of the population most at risk of cystic fibrosis and provide reasons for this (Watson, 2007).

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Who is affected?

Research suggests that CF is the most widespread life shortening disorders affecting children within the Unites States after sickle cell anemia. It is estimated that about 30, 000 Americans are affected by the condition (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 2007).  Moreover, 1000 individuals are diagnosed with the disorder annually. Generally, the overall birth occurrence of CF within the United Sates is 1 in 3700. Further, the disorder occurs equally in both males and females. Nevertheless, is has been established that the prevalence of cystic fibrosis in very high among the Caucasians of northern European descent. Research suggests that 1 in every 2500 Caucasian newborns are affected by the condition. In order for an individual to develop and express the symptom of the disease, one must have inherited a defective gene from both parents. Every time the carries of the disease conceive, the possibility of them having a child manifesting with the disease is 25%, 50% chance that the child will be a carrier of the gene and 25% chance that the child will not have the gene (Watson, 2004).

Overall, the symptoms and severity of the disease vary considerably because of different mutations of the gene. Cystic fibrosis is also very common or prevalent among the Native Americans and Latinos especially the Zuni and Pueblo (Kerem et al., 2006). The disease is not common or much less among the African Americans and Asian Americans. Of all the ethnic groups, the European Caucasians possess the highest risk of developing cystic fibrosis while Asian Americans have the lowest risk of developing the disease. It is majorly a disease of infants and children, however, more adult case are increasingly being diagnosed. Infants are at a very high risk of manifesting with the disease because the genes responsible for causing the disease are inherited from the parents. It two individuals that are carriers have children, then there is always 25% chance that the child is affected, 50% chance that the child will be a carrier of the gene and 25% chance that the child will not have the gene. Generally, 2%-5% of Caucasians carry the cystic fibrosis gene. The disorder is very much common among the Caucasians of Central and Northern European descent and is less prevalent or less common in other ethnic groups (Watson, 2007).

African Americans

Research suggests that cystic fibrosis is very common among the Caucasians as compared to the African Americans. Approximately 1 in every 15,000 African Americans are usually diagnosed with the disease as compared to 1 in 2500 Caucasians. According the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, of the over 24, 511 patients in their registry, 4.2% were African Americans (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 2007).   Moreover, between the years 1999 and 2006, there were approximately 131 deaths resulting from cystic fibrosis among the African Americans. Essentially, the age-adjusted rate of mortality of 0.04 per 100,000 for the African American population was remarkably lower than other ethnic or racial groups. “The apparently lower rate of cystic fibrosis among the African Americans can be attributes to the fact that the Delta F508 genetic mutation which is the most widespread CF gene mutation, has been detected in approximately 44% of African Americans presenting with cystic fibrosis.” On the other hand, the same gene has been detected in 72% of Caucasian persons presenting with CF (Watson, 2007).


Research suggests that approximately 1 in every 13,500 Latinos as compared to 1 in every 2,500 Caucasians manifest with CF. About 6.8 % of individuals in the Cystic Foundation Registry OF 2007 were Latinos. The number of CF related Latino deaths were 178 between 1999 and 2006, with an age-adjusted rate of 0.05 per 100,000. It is evident that this rate is very when compared to other racial groups (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 2007). The Delta F508 genetic mutation, which is the most widespread CF gene mutation, has been detected in 54& of Hispanics as compared to 72% in the Caucasian ethnic group (Watson, 2007).

Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans

Very limited research has been conducted on the prevalence of CF among the Asian Americans and Hawaiians/pacific islanders. Some research suggests that I in every 30,000 Asian Americans manifests with the disorder this is considerably lower than the Latinos (1 in 13,500), Caucasians (1 in 2,500) and African Americans (1 in 15, 100). Further, research on the individuals with Asian decent indicated that there is a lower prevalence and it is strongly believed that a considerable number of Asian America cases result from having a parent from the Asian and Caucasian descent.  Among the Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans, only 16 deaths resulting from CF were recorded between 1999 and 2006. The age-adjusted death rate for this group was suggested to be between 0.01% and 0.02%, however, this age-adjusted death rate is believed to be unreliable due to the relatively low number of deaths (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 2007).   Of all the racial or ethnic groups, the Asian Americans/ Pacific Islanders are the ones with the lowest age adjusted mortality rates (Pihet, et al.,2009).

American Indians/ Alaska Natives

Because of their relatively small numbers as compared to other ethnic groups, the available data and findings on CF among the Asian Americans/Alaska Natives is very scarce.  The small sample sizes are generally considered statistically inaccurate hence; the research findings and results are not published. Nevertheless, research suggests that CF May be common among the Alaska Natives and American Indians, more so among the Zuni and Pueblo. There were only 26 deaths resulting from CF among the Asian Americans and Alaska Natives between 1999 and 2006. Conversely, the age-adjusted death rate of this group was 0.12 per 100,000 and this comes second to that of Caucasians (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 2007).


In conclusion, cystic fibrosis is a hereditary genetic condition that mainly affects the secretary glugs including the gland responsible for the production of sweat and mucus. The disease mainly develops in childhood. The disorder affects approximately 30,000 children and adults within the United States. Of all the ethnic groups, the European Caucasians possess the highest risk of developing cystic fibrosis while Asian Americans have the lowest risk of developing the disease.

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