The signs and symptoms of cystic fibrosis can vary greatly from severe disease that is evident in infants to mild disease that isn't apparent until adulthood. Approximately 10 to 20% of cases of cystic fibrosis are evident at birth with intestinal blockage (meconium ileus), while the remaining cases are identified later when chronic lung problems (rhinitis, sinusitis, obstructive lung disease) and/or poor growth becomes evident. Of these cases, most are diagnosed in early childhood however around 4% of patients aren't diagnosed until adulthood.
Today many states have added cystic fibrosis to their newborn screening tests, and expectanct couples are offered cystic fibrosis screening. This will likely further improve earlier detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cystic fibrosis.