Nutritionist urges proper nutrition in corrective cleft surgery

Health Nutrition Surgery

Parents and caregivers of children with cleft lip and palate have been advised to prioritize the nutrition of their children as this is a major factor to consider before undertaking corrective surgery .

Cleft lip and cleft palate are openings or clefts respectively in the upper lip, or the roof of the mouth (palate) respectively or both, which occur when the facial structures that develop in an unborn baby do not not close completely.

Mrs. Dede Kwadjo, Nutrition Officer for Operation Smile Ghana, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said that good nutrition not only prevents malnutrition but is also a key ingredient in achieving a surgery to correct a cleft lip or palate.

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 as their weight must match. at their one year old. and above the age that such surgery could be performed.

She revealed that due to the challenge associated with cleft lip and palate, many children with birth defects tend to have poor eating habits leading to weight-related issues.

She said that to help get children in the best nutritional shape for continuing surgery, Operation Smile Ghana’s nutrition team is running a free monthly session for all children with cleft issues across the country.

The nutrition officer said they were able to identify problems early and put the right interventions in place to ensure surgery was done at the right time to prevent the child from suffering from developmental disorders. speech, especially when it came to cleft palates.

She said that sometimes nutritional problems and malnutrition do not always stem from a lack of nutrition, but sometimes there was a lack of knowledge on the part of caregivers because some of them did not have the knowledge needed to feed children well.

Ms Kwadjo said some carers tended to feed children three times a day like they were feeding themselves, unaware that due to babies’ small stomachs, they needed to be fed frequently to stay healthy. ensure they were getting the required amount of nutrients for the day.

She said some parents fed babies frequently but not with the necessary nutrients, saying for example some gave babies unenriched porridge.

The senior dietitian at Korle Bu University Hospital said that as each case may differ, a nutritional assessment should be carried out on each baby which will inform the type of interventions to be carried out.

She said when power interruptions were detected, for example, carers and parents were empowered with advice and education on what to do, while children who needed nutritional support received the ready-to-use peanut-based therapeutic food, the plumy nut.

Ms Kwadjo urged 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 could be corrected early in life. six months to avoid stigma and other related issues.

She said, however, that the cleft palate, if not reconstructed early, could affect the child’s speech, making it mostly nasalized.

She said it was disturbing that due to stigma, some parents hid their babies with the defect and refused to send them to child protection (weigh-in) clinics, as well as not enrolling them in the schools.

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Christine E. Phillips