NGO Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft organization, and its network of 140+ partner hospitals across India announced the launch of their month-long Cleft Nutrition Awareness and Outreach Campaign to celebrate Poshan Maah. The organization plans to bring focus on and educate both parents and medical communities about the special feeding and nutritional needs of babies born with a cleft.
Smile Train advocates that every baby born with a cleft must have the opportunity to thrive and grow, without being held back by any feeding challenges related to their cleft. Clefts affect babies’ ability to suck, often making it very difficult for them to breast or bottle-feed. Proper feeding and nutrition are the first and most essential steps in the treatment of children with clefts as only when a newborn reaches a healthy weight can they receive their life-transforming cleft surgery.
Speaking on the occasion, Mamta Carroll, Senior Vice President and Regional Director for Smile Train Asia said, “Babies with clefts are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition and the problem tends to persist for as long as cleft lip and palate are untreated. As part of this awareness campaign, we hope to share information and resources with cleft affected families and collaborate with relevant nutrition-focused organizations to ensure proper nutrition and care is provided to each cleft affected child in need.”
The month-long awareness campaign will include capacity-building webinars, seminars, and online meetings with government health departments, nutrition specialists, and organizations working on the issue of child malnutrition as well as outreach programs to create awareness and provide counseling to parents of children with clefts.
Smile Train is a nutrition resource for partner hospitals, cleft teams, and those affected by clefts around the world. Smile Train’s Nutrition Program encompasses three levels of support for feeding and nutrition:
- Feeding counseling for mothers and families
- Nutrition assessment for patients with clefts
- Nutrition care before and after surgery
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While all cleft teams at partner hospitals across India are equipped to provide feeding counseling for mothers and families, Smile Train India aims to expand their Nutrition Assessment and Care Program across the country so that children can receive their surgery at the optimal age.
Smile Train’s sustainable model of empowering and training local healthcare workers fosters long-term relationships between families and cleft teams. This allows Smile Train’s partner hospitals to ensure that the parents of children with clefts receive the right guidance for nutritional well-being from birth to completion of cleft surgery.
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