Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited condition, caused by a faulty gene. You cannot catch Cystic Fibrosis or get it in later life. The condition is now, usually diagnosed as a baby since the introduction of newborn screening in January 2007 which is done with a heel prick test.
Occasionally the diagnosis is not made until later in childhood or even until adult life (particularly for those who were born before the introduction of screening). A simple, painless test can be done to collect a little sweat that may show high levels of sodium and chloride. A blood test will confirm the presence of two copies of the CF gene in most patients. However, occasionally a rare gene is difficult to detect.
To have a child with Cystic Fibrosis, both parents need to carry the gene. About 1 in 25 of the population in the UK carry the CF gene and are usually unaware of this, unless CF has already been diagnosed in the family. People who carry the gene have no symptoms and are not affected by CF. When both parents carry the gene there is a one in four chance at each pregnancy of having a child with Cystic Fibrosis.