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Cystic fibrosis - nutrition

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive tract. People with CF need to eat foods that are high in calories and protein throughout the day.

Function

The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen behind the stomach. An important job of the pancreas is to make enzymes. These enzymes help the body digest and absorb protein and fats. A buildup of sticky mucus in the pancreas from CF can lead to serious problems, including:

Because of these problems, people with CF may have a hard time staying at a normal weight. Even when weight is normal, a person may not be getting the right nutrition. Children with CF may not grow or develop correctly.

Recommendations

The following are ways for adding protein and calories to the diet. Be sure to follow other specific instructions from your health care provider.

Enzymes, vitamins, and salt:

Eating patterns:

Getting more calories and protein:

Related Information

Cystic fibrosis
Bile
Malabsorption
Delayed growth
Normal growth and development

References

Egan ME, Schechter MS, Voynow JA. Cystic fibrosis. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, et al, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2025:chap 454.

Hollander FM, de Roos NM, Heijerman HGM. The optimal approach to nutrition and cystic fibrosis: latest evidence and recommendations. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2017;23(6):556-561. PMID: 28991007 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28991007/.

Solomon GM, Hoover W, Sorscher EJ, Rowe SM. Cystic fibrosis: diagnosis and management. In: Broaddus VC, Ernst JD, King TE, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 68.

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Review Date: 4/17/2024  

Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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