Mission Smile - Nutrition Program

Cleft lip and palate children and Malnutrition

Studies suggest that children with poor nutrition are at risk of poor surgical outcomes. Children with Cleft are more prone to nutritional problems because of the different degrees of cleft and difficulties in breastfeeding, and lack of knowledge of the parents in different methods and positions to feed the cleft babies. Malnourished cleft children are more prone to infections such as pneumonia, skin diseases, measles and diarrhoea due to nutrition-related immunity.

If malnourishment in cleft patients is not addressed through helping them with education, emotional support, provide Complementary food and micronutrient supplements and treatment, the possibility of their undergoing surgery or even survival becomes very remote.

In view of the above, we at GC4 have a Nutrition Program with the following objectives.^

Issues/ challenges faced by cleft malnourished patients  

Infants with clefts have a difficult time breastfeeding/eating.

Due to the very poor economic background, these Cleft Children are deprived of proper diet.

Feeding is a constant challenge and unless the cleft is rectified by surgery, the malnourished condition continues.

Due to low weight and very low immune system, these children are unable to receive surgeries on time and the cycle continues.

Objectives of the Mission Smile Nutrition Program:

To identify, evaluate and monitor the severity of malnutrition in children with a cleft in the age group of 0-5 years.

To provide adequate micronutrients and to treat any associated medical condition.

Timely referral of SAM (Severe Acute Malnourished) patients to tertiary care centres or Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres.

Assurance and possibilities, testimonials

Provide emotional support to the family and motivate them to take on the challenge of caring for the child.

Educate parents/caregivers about food habits (locally available) feeding methods and frequency, food and personal hygiene

Maintain patient data to monitor and evaluate their progress periodically until they are fit for surgery.

Subject to availability of funds/ donations, patients are also provided with infant formula feeds, special feeding bottles for cleft.

Present scenario:

As of 2020, more than 1000 cleft children have been enrolled in the nutrition program.

As of 2020, 700 + patients from the program have undergone surgery successfully

Around 15-20 new cleft patients are enrolled in the program every month.

700+ patients and their families are still struggling due to their malnourished as well as impoverished condition.