Pediatric Cystic fibrosis

Our program is nationally accredited by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and is part of a national network of accredited programs offering expert care for children and adults with Cystic Fibrosis. Our center takes part in research to find new and better treatments, and educates healthcare professionals about cystic fibrosis. Learn more about CF Care Centers.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease that affects the glands that make mucus and sweat. Patients with CF may have difficulty absorbing fat, protein and certain vitamins from the foods they eat. As a result, children with CF may have difficulty gaining weight and growing normally, and often times lose large amounts of salt when they sweat, which can cause dehydration. Cystic fibrosis patients are at higher risk for diabetes and osteoporosis.

Symptoms can include:

  • Salty-tasting skin
  • Persistent coughing
  • Repeated ear, sinus and lung infections
  • Lung infections, wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Poor growth and weight gain
  • Greasy, bulky stools or difficulty moving bowels

Treatments for Cystic Fibrosis are aimed at:

  • Thinning and clearing thick mucus from the lungs
  • Decreasing the amount of bacteria in the lungs and treating lung infections
  • Improving absorption of fats, protein and vitamins from food
  • Optimizing nutrition and assuring good weight gain and growth
  • Treating blockages in the intestines
  • Treatment of cystic fibrosis related diabetes

For the lungs, treatment includes chest physical therapy to loosen and help to remove secretions from the lungs.  It can be delivered by clapping on the back and through the use of a specialized vest. A series of breathing treatments including mucus-thinning agents and sometimes inhaled antibiotics are prescribed. Patients are also prescribed special vitamins and pancreatic enzymes to help them gain weight.

Lung transplants

Lung transplantation may be an option for some cystic fibrosis patients. University Transplant Center, a partnership between University Health System and UT Health San Antonio, performs lung transplants. In fact, some of the earliest advances in lung transplantation took place here. If you and your doctors decide a lung transplant is an option, our transplant team can perform an evaluation and discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure.

Cystic Fibrosis Newborn Screening

Since December 2009, all babies born in Texas undergo newborn screening for cystic fibrosis. The pediatric and adult pulmonologists, together with a pediatric endocrinologist, dietician, social worker and respiratory therapist who are specially trained in the field of cystic fibrosis, provide care for children and adults with CF. Our staff coordinates sweat testing for babies with positive newborn screens for CF, as well as lifelong care to manage the pulmonary and gastrointestinal symptoms of the disease. We provide education for families and children with CF, and coordinate care with the school system and work environments.