Preparing Children for Surgery Nutrition Programs
Nutritional support for our patients has always been an important part of the care provided by Operation Smile. It became critically important with the onset of the pandemic. Many infants with cleft lip and palate have trouble breastfeeding and gaining weight after birth. As a result, malnutrition and low weight are common reasons why a patient’s surgery is delayed.
This past year, usage of our nutrition programs grew exponentially, and so did their importance to our patients and their families when loss of family income also meant the inability to buy nutritious food.
Our nutrition programs are designed to contribute to our patients’ food and nutritional needs, with the goal of ensuring they are at a healthy weight to receive surgery. Depending on the country, the programs offer workshops on preparing nutritious food, good oral hygiene practices, and nutrition kits and cleft feeding bottles at the end of the consultations. Our teams also train community health volunteers, midwives, and health care workers in nutrition for infants and children with cleft conditions.