Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

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Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes


What is Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes?

CF-related diabetes (CFRD) is unique to persons with CF. It is not common in young children with CF, but is more common in adolescents and adults. For example, among persons with CF, CFRD is found in about 25 percent of children ages 10-19, 35-45 percent of adults ages 20-39, and greater than 50 percent of adults older than 40.

Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes DiagramCFRD occurs due to damage CF may cause to the pancreas. This organ produces insulin, which your body uses to convert blood sugar into energy. It is believed that CF may cause scarring in the pancreas, reducing insulin production. This in turn leads to elevated blood glucose levels. 

CFRD is somewhat similar to non CF-related diabetes - type 1 and type 2 -  but it is not identical. This means treatment and management of CFRD is also different. If you are considering changing your diet because of diabetes, you should discuss your plans with your health care team first.

How does this affect me?

High blood sugar makes gaining or maintaining proper body weight difficult. It also inhibits your body from preventing infections. Both of these consequences affect the health of your lungs. Therefore, it is very important to keep your blood sugar within a healthy range.

How do you test for CFRD?

All CF patients aged 10 and older receive a test for CFRD each time they are admitted to the hospital. They are also screened once a year during a clinic visit.

As soon as the patient arrives the hospital, we take a fasting blood sugar level. We also perform blood sugar checks two hours after each meal over the first two days.

For patients with tube feedings, we check blood sugar levels in the middle of the tube feed and immediately after it ends.

Learn more about the oral glucose tolerance screening for CFRD.

How is CFRD treated?

Insulin is the only recommended treatment for CFRD. Oral diabetes medicines do not work well for CFRD.

Insulin helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Some patients need insulin every day. Others may need insulin only when they are sick. We ask patients to check their blood sugar at home so their care teams can make the best choices for their care. Fortunately, when patients improve their blood sugar levels, their nutrition and lungs usually improve as well.

What about diet?

CFRD patients should not eat fewer calories or carbohydrates. Eating a diet that is balanced and high in calories is important for maintaining normal blood sugar levels. To plan the right dose of insulin, it may help to count carbohydrates. A nutritionist can help.

Who will be on the CFRD Care Team?

In addition to a nutritionist, a diabetes doctor and educator will become part of your CF care team. This team will work with you and your child your unique needs through support, encouragement, and education.

Contact us

Call your CF team at (615) 343-7617 if you have any questions.

Learn more about CFRD from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Last Edited: July 27, 2016
Valued Participant of Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network