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Preparing for Our Cleft Trip to Guatemala

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LWB has always been passionate about helping babies and children born with cleft lip and palate. Since 2004, we’ve sent international medical teams to China and Cambodia to perform life-changing surgeries for children born with this medical need. Now, we’re excited to announce that plans are being made to send a medical team to Guatemala later in 2022!

Guatemala family cleft baby

The Guatemalan Ministry of Health estimates that cleft lip and palate account for 15% of all reported congenital anomalies in the country. Rural Guatemala is extremely impoverished, and poverty presents numerous additional challenges for families with cleft-affected babies and children. Malnutrition is endemic and poses additional problems for children born with cleft who often have difficulties nursing or taking a bottle. Inadequate nutrition and high rates of infection are believed to be principal postnatal factors in limiting a child’s normal growth and development.

Guatemala baby with cleft lip

Lack of prenatal care, limited access to trained medical staff, and poor availability of technology to properly diagnose congenital anomalies make it difficult to know how many infants and children are actually affected each year. However, it is believed that the numbers are greatly underestimated and may be three times higher than what is known to authorities. A recent analysis in Reproductive Health Journal indicates that 10% of children born with cleft in Guatemala will tragically pass away before 6 weeks of age.

Guatemala baby with cleft lip

Children born with cleft often struggle to feed properly, and providing surgery early in life is the best way to help ensure their survival.

This December, our international medical team will be traveling to Guatemala to provide surgeries to some of the hundreds of children already identified and waiting for healing. Before a child can have surgery, they must first meet the weight and health requirements. This week, we are working to raise funds for specialized cleft bottles and supplemental formula for babies who are struggling to eat and gain the weight they need to have cleft repair surgery.

Baby with cleft lip cleft bottle

Cleft bottles, which are often vital for helping cleft-affected children get adequate nutrition, are not available in Guatemala. They must be imported, and that is where your help is critical. There is an enormous need for both cleft bottles and high-quality formula for those children who have not been able to successfully breastfeed.

If you would like to be a part of this life-changing effort, please visit our Sweet Smiles Cleft Nutrition campaign to learn how you can make a difference in the life of a cleft-affected child today.

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