At what age is cystic fibrosis (CF) typically diagnosed?

Updated: Sep 28, 2020
  • Author: Girish D Sharma, MD, FCCP, FAAP; Chief Editor: Kenan Haver, MD  more...
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Median age at diagnosis of cystic fibrosis is 6-8 months; two thirds of patients are diagnosed by 1 year of age. The age at diagnosis varies widely, however, as do the clinical presentation, severity of symptoms, and rate of disease progression in the organs involved. Clinical manifestations vary with the patient's age at presentation.

Neonates may present with meconium ileus or, rarely, with other features such as anasarca. Patients younger than 1 year may present with wheezing, coughing, and/or recurring respiratory infections and pneumonia. GI tract presentation in early infancy may be in the form of steatorrhea, failure to thrive, or both.

Patients diagnosed later in childhood or in adulthood are more likely to have pancreatic sufficiency and often present with chronic cough and sputum production. Approximately 10% of patients with cystic fibrosis remain pancreatic sufficient; these patients tend to have a milder course.

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