Young Children


Child care and preschool

It’s natural to have concerns when your child starts preschool, a good approach to communicating these concerns can be to meet with staff from your child’s centre or preschool. These meetings are a useful opportunity for the staff to learn about cystic fibrosis and what it means for your child. You can also discuss ways that the staff can work together with you to help manage your child’s cystic fibrosis while they are attending the centre.

Teachers and child care staff can learn more about cystic fibrosis here.

The cystic fibrosis diet

Schools will support a high fat cystic fibrosis diet once they understand why it’s required. Ask the teacher to make reference to the cystic fibrosis diet if the class is learning about healthy eating (as this can sometimes cause confusion for children with cystic fibrosis on a high calorie diet).

Remind the teacher that your child will need regular water (or cordial/salty drinks in summer) and may need to take salt tablets or liquid while at school. The teacher and teaching assistants need to be aware of the signs of dehydration.


Even though your child may be at ease with taking Creon, the centre’s staff may feel anxious about giving it to them if they haven’t been used to giving children medication. Talk with your centre’s staff about how to manage giving Creon, and don’t forget to talk them through different scenarios, such as what to do when your child has been given a dose of Creon but then doesn’t want to eat their food.


Physiotherapy exercises help clear the thick, sticky mucus that the body produces from the lungs and airways.

A cystic fibrosis physiotherapist will develop a physio treatment plan to suit your child. Many parents say that engaging their child in play or games is a great way to get them to do their physio and airway clearance exercises, for example bouncing on a trampoline or blowing bubbles.

Being physically active is also beneficial for maintaining lung function so encourage your child to take part in physical games, sports and other aerobic activities.


Avoiding infection is one of the main parental concerns. Illnesses like coughs and colds are unfortunately common in child care and preschool. Your child, like all of their classmates, is likely to pick up some of the bugs and illnesses that go around. The risk can be lessened through simple but effective infection control procedures, such as hand washing, using hand sanitising gels, opening windows where possible, and asking staff to keep other children with coughs and colds separate from your child.

Ask the school what infection control practices they have, for example, providing:

  • paper towel and liquid soap
  • access to hand gel
  • regular and ongoing education for the students about good hand washing practices
  • a school policy on unwell children coming to school

Environmental issues

As well as the risk of illness, there is the chance that the environment and activities at the centre could expose your child to bacteria and fungi. The centre should take care to ensure that only fresh, clean water is used in water play, and that stagnant water is not left to accumulate in play equipment. You also may want to talk with the centre staff about whether you are comfortable for your child to participate in activities such as digging in soil, playing in sand pits and playing with mud.

Cross infection

It’s a good idea to make the school aware of cross infection issues in case there is another child at the school who has cystic fibrosis. This is rare but it does happen.

It is not advisable for children with cystic fibrosis to be in the same class as each other, but if they are in different year groups the risk can be managed.

Things to discuss with your child’s teacher:

  • Symptoms that might impact your child while at school e.g. coughing, tiredness, wind, toilet habits, becoming dehydrated easily, anxiety.
  • Enzymes – where will they be stored e.g. in your child’s lunchbox, with the teacher? What sort of system will you use to communicate with the teacher about how many are needed for snacks and lunch?


As your child moves through primary school he or she may become more independent; however, it is still useful for teachers to understand about cystic fibrosis and how it affects your child.

Teachers and child care staff can learn more about cystic fibrosis here.

The school/teacher’s responsibilities are to:

  • Ensure your child is taking the required medication and food/snacks.
  • Ensure quick and easy access to the toilet is provided if needed.
  • Provide catch up work if your child is absent.
  • Be aware of any changes e.g. symptoms of dehydration, tired, on the toilet more often.
  • Promote good hygiene and infection control practices.

Your responsibilities are to:

  • Provide the teacher with the medications required by your child to be taken at school.
  • Provide the teacher with clear information about medications (how, when, storage, any side effects).
  • Inform the teacher of any additional medications required during the year.
  • Inform the school/teacher if your child has to go to hospital, clinic appointments or other absences.
  • Inform the teacher if there are any changes to your child’s health.