Saturday, October 6, 2012

Operation Smile: Something Definitely Worth Smiling About

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” 

A smile is a beautiful moment. I can remember distinctly the first time I saw my babies smile at me. It's a moment that bonded us together. Sadly, some children are born unable to smile due to a cleft lip. Yet Operation Smile is making a difference for children around the world, making it possible for families to enjoy that special bond that comes with a smile. 

Q and A: 
What is a cleft lip and what is a cleft palate?
A cleft is an opening in the lip, the roof of the mouth or the soft tissue in the back of the mouth. A cleft lip may be accompanied by an opening in the bones of the upper jaw and/or the upper gum. A cleft palate occurs when the two sides of a palate do not join together, resulting in an opening in the roof of the mouth. A cleft lip and palate can occur on one side or both sides. A child can suffer from a cleft lip, a cleft palate or both.

What causes cleft lips and cleft palates?

The exact cause is unknown. Cleft lips and cleft palates are congenital defects that occur early in embryonic development. Scientists believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as maternal illness, drugs or malnutrition, may lead to a cleft lip or cleft palate. If one child in a family is born with a cleft, the risk increases by 2 to 4 percent that future children in the family will suffer from the same defect.

Can cleft lips and cleft palates be repaired?
Yes. Cleft lip and cleft palate surgery provides excellent results. A pediatrician and a plastic surgeon work with a child's parents to choose the best timing for surgery. Most surgeons agree that a cleft lip repair should be completed by the time a baby is 3 months old. To repair the partition of mouth and nose as early as possible, cleft palate surgery is recommended between the ages of 12 and 18 months. Any surgical procedure or cleft lip or cleft palate treatment is dependent upon a child's general health and the nature of the cleft lip or cleft palate.

At Operation Smile, medical volunteers provide effective, safe, free cleft palate and lip repair surgery for children all over the world. Operation Smile is dedicated to "raising awareness of this life-threatening issue and providing lasting solutions that will allow children to be healed, regardless of financial standing, well into the future." has partnered with Operation Smile and has touched children around the world with over 1,000 cleft lip surgeries this year. Now it's our turn, donate here , to make a difference in a child's life.

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