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Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system by making fluids and mucus thick and sticky. This causes persistent lung infections that progressively limit the ability to breathe. Children with CF also suffer from digestive problems that prevent their bodies from breaking down and absorbing food, leading to inadequate growth and nutrition.

However, thanks to high-tech medical advances in drug therapy and genetics, children with CF are diagnosed earlier, adding quality years to their lives.

How do I know if my child has CF?

All newborns are screened for CF. Approximately 30 babies are born in Georgia each year with CF. Babies are typically diagnosed within the first month of life, even before showing signs of the disease.

At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, we know that having a child diagnosed with CF can be overwhelming. Our Cystic Fibrosis Program, which is accredited by the national Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, offers a wide range of services to treat children with CF. Additionally, we provide special programs to educate families about the disease and participate in a national CF quality improvement network to align with our commitment to high-quality care.

CF services

  • Prenatal visits: We offer prenatal visits for parents whose prenatal screening is positive for CF.
  • Follow-up services for newborns: Babies who have an abnormal CF newborn screening or sweat test may be referred to us for a clinic evaluation.
  • Diagnostic testing: A sweat test is a simple, painless test to diagnose CF.
  • Genetic evaluations: We review a patient’s history and order genetic testing.
  • Pulmonary function tests: These tests let us see how well your child’s lungs are working.
  • Respiratory culture: A throat swab looks for bacteria in your child’s respiratory tract.
  • Chest imaging: These images allow us to look for any changes in your child’s airways and lungs.
  • Bronchoscopy: This test examines your child’s throat, larynx, trachea and lower airways.

Specialty clinics 

Our CF providers collaborate with other pediatric specialists within Children’s, including gastroenterologists and endocrinologists, to provide the following multidisciplinary clinics:

  • CF Mental Health Clinic
  • CF GI Clinic
  • CF Endocrinology and Diabetes Clinic

CF educational resources 

  • CF Family Advisory Council: This council is made up of a group of our patients’ parents who serve as an advisory group to the Emory Adult Cystic Fibrosis Center and the Children’s and Emory Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Program.
  • Family Mentor Program: This program matches families facing CF with trained, veteran parents.
  • CF Transition Program: This program helps children with CF achieve a full, independent life and enables a successful transition to adult care.
  • Caregiver Support Groups

Our team is led by Rachel Linnemann, MD, who serves as Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center and Co-Director of the Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Program, and Kevin Kirchner, MD, who serves as Co-Director of the Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Program. Our pediatric-trained pulmonologists are part of a multidisciplinary team that also includes clinical nurse specialists, dietitians, social workers, respiratory therapists, a gastroenterologist, an endocrinologist, a physical therapist, a genetic counselor, a cystic fibrosis mental health coordinator and a pharmacist.

Pulmonologists

Advanced practice providers

  • Brie Baxter, CPNP
  • Michelle McKinnon, CPNP
  • Stephanie Pendley, CPNP

Endocrinologists

Gastroenterologists

The Children’s CF Clinic is located at the Center for Advanced Pediatrics. We also offer inpatient services at our Egleston and Scottish Rite hospitals.