An NGO to make babies with a cleft lip smile again

Babies with split lips

Mr. Clement Ofosuhemeng, Patient Coordinator of Operation Smile Ghana, assured parents that he considers it a duty and a call to bring smiles back to babies with cleft lip and palate.

He said the international non-governmental organization’s team of various disciplines including surgeons, pediatricians and nutritionists were working to provide free reconstructive surgeries for babies with cleft lip and palate.

Speaking to Ghana News Agency in an interview, he said the best time to start caring for these babies was from birth to ensure the right way of feeding was done, while health workers also monitored their nutritional and other medical issues. tips to prepare them for surgery.

Mr Ofosuhemeng said that to ensure the babies received the necessary nutrition, their team met with their parents every month at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and Tamale Teaching Hospital for those in the southern and southern regions. north respectively.

He said the team also runs counseling sessions for parents and caregivers on how to manage babies with a cleft and minimize the stigma associated with the defect.

He said that due to the stigma, parents hid their babies and called on them to seek early care for their babies because early intervention was beneficial for the growth of their children.

Ms. Dede Kwadjo, Nutrition Officer for Operation Smile Ghana, on her part advised parents and caregivers of children with cleft lip and palate to prioritize the nutrition of their children as it was a major factor to consider before proceeding with corrective surgery.

Ms Kwadjo, who is also a senior dietitian at Korle Bu University Hospital, said a child’s corresponding weight should match age as a sign of good health before being booked for surgery.

She revealed that a child with a cleft lip must have a minimum weight of at least six kilograms at six months to be eligible for surgery, while those with a cleft palate must not weigh less than 10 kilograms because their weight should match their unique weight. years and above the age at which such surgery could be performed.

She said that due to the challenges associated with cleft lip and palate, many of these children tend to have poor eating habits leading to weight-related issues.

She said that to help get children on nutrition for surgery, the nutrition team identified issues early and put in place the right interventions to ensure surgery was done at the right time to prevent the child does not suffer from speech impairment.

She said that sometimes nutritional problems and malnutrition did not always stem from a lack of nutrition, but sometimes there was a knowledge gap on the part of caregivers as some of them lacked information about proper nutrition.

Ms Kwadjo said some caregivers tended to feed children three times a day as they feed themselves, not knowing that due to the small size of babies’ stomachs they needed to be fed frequently to s ensuring they were getting the required amount of nutrients for the day.

She said some parents were also feeding babies frequently but not with the right nutrients, saying for example that some gave their babies unenriched porridge.

She said each case may differ, so a nutritional assessment should be done on individual babies to inform the type of interventions to be given.

Ms Kwadjo reiterated the need for parents to seek early care for their babies with cleft lip and palate, explaining that although cleft lip does not necessarily affect feeding and speech, it can be corrected early in life. six months to avoid stigma and other related issues. .

She said the cleft palate, if not reconstructed early, could affect the child’s speech.

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Christine E. Phillips