Does cystic fibrosis only occur in the U.S.?

Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, and millions more are carriers for the condition. In fact, approximately 1 in 29 Americans have at least one defective gene responsible for cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis, however, is not specific to the United States, and it actually occurs worldwide. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that is most common in people of northern European descent. It is least common in Asian people, with the defective gene only appearing in 1 out of 90 Asian people. Cystic fibrosis is also less common in African Americans (1 in 65 people) [source: Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Standford].

It is estimated that 700,000 to one million people are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis worldwide. This statistic, however, is only an estimate, as it is difficult to determine the prevalence of cystic fibrosis in developing countries. Approximately 30,000 people are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in the United States every year; therefore, this is clearly not a condition specific to the American population. Approximately 7,500 people in the United Kingdom and another 30,000 people in the European Union are diagnosed with the condition every year. India alone probably has about 80,000 to 100,000 cases of cystic fibrosis [source: Cystic Fibrosis Worldwide].


Developed countries, such as the United States, Canada, and European Union, have a higher per capita rate of cystic fibrosis compared to developing countries for a very simple, yet important reason. Developing countries do not have the health care standards or the resources needed for infants and children with cystic fibrosis to survive past infancy or early childhood. The average lifespan of someone with cystic fibrosis in a developed country, however, is well into adulthood [source: Cystic Fibrosis Worldwide; PubMed Health].