IRISH people suffering from cystic fibrosis are living longer although they are still behind their counterparts in the United States and the UK.
Philip Watt, chief executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Association, said women with the disease who were born in the 1980s are surviving until their early 30s and men until their mid-30s.
A number of factors contribute to this, including improvements in treatment to cope with malnutrition, better antibiotics and the appointment of more hospital specialists.
Since July, newborns are tested for the genetic disorder and this is expected to have a major impact on survival for future generations with the disease.
There are now slightly more people over 18 years with the disease than children, he added.
He said, however, the lack of sufficient single rooms in hospitals for cystic fibrosis patients has had a negative impact on their survival.
A new plan has been worked out with St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin to allow them access to enough single rooms and avoid a repetition of the recent crisis when five had to be turned away.
Meanwhile, a new study, published today, says the survival rates could improve dramatically and reach 51 years for men and 39 years for women.
The Health Research Board study, carried out by Dr Abi Jackson and Dr Cecily Kelleher at UCD's Department of Public Health, pointed to Ireland's high incidence of cystic fibrosis – around 1,200 people have the disease.
"The results showed that life expectancy has been increasing in Ireland and that the Irish figures are slightly lower than in the US, but still compare well," the study says.
"One of the findings was that people in Ireland with CF who were born between 1985 and 1994 are living a similar length of time as those individuals in the US.
"Early intervention is important for survival and health. This project means we have an analysis of the data before July 2011, when newborn screening was introduced, and so we will be able to see if newborn screening makes a difference."