Irish people with cystic fibrosis expected to live longer

Debilitating illness set to become disease of adults predominantly, rather than children

Ireland already has by far the largest incidence of cystic fibrosis in Europe. Photograph: The Irish Times

Ireland already has by far the largest incidence of cystic fibrosis in Europe. Photograph: The Irish Times

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Irish people living with cystic fibrosis into adulthood is expected to increase by up to 65 per cent by 2025, according to an international survey.

The number of Irish children with the disease is forecast to grow 21 per cent in the next decade, the Europe-wide research jointly led by Queen’s University Belfast shows. For the first time, cystic fibrosis will become a disease of adults predominantly, rather than children.

Although the projected rate of increase for adults is lower than the European average of 75 per cent, Ireland already has by far the largest incidence of cystic fibrosis in Europe.

People with cystic fibrosis have previously had low life expectancy, but improvements in treatments in the last three decades have led to an increase in survival with almost all children now living to about 40 years.

In the study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, researchers from Belfast and Paris provided forecasts for the number of adults living with the disease in 34 European countries by the year 2025. The Netherlands and the UK were expected to see the largest rises.

“The estimations we have made show very positive news for cystic fibrosis patients as the average survival age is increasing,” said Prof Stuart Elborn, dean of the school of medicine at Queen’s.

“We are now concerned that there are insufficient specialist centres to provide optimal care to adults with the disease. It is crucial that we take note of these early predictions.”

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