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Smile Train China & Operation Smile Vietnam

The global incidence of cleft lip and/or cleft palate is approximately 1 in 750 child births. Because surgery to repair a cleft lip/palate is routinely performed in the United States as early as 3 months of age and since the incidence is less as compared to Asian countries, we don't think about the condition as much as in other countries. In countries like Egypt, people with cleft lips/palates are looked upon as "cursed" and shunned upon by Egyptian society. In Third World countries, surgical correction of cleft lips/palates are unaffordable, especially the indigent population. Majority of children born with cleft lip/palate in developing countries are too poor that they can barely buy food to eat, and thus can never afford surgery that they so desperately need. As these children grow, "they quickly learn that life with a cleft can be a long and painful struggle, often hidden away by their family out of shame and ignorance." In some countries they are not allowed to attend school or hold a job. Most of these children with cleft lip/palate will never be able to speak or eat properly. Cleft lip and/or cleft palate surgery "provide new smiles, hope & a new beginning to children who otherwise would lead lives of isolation and shame." Let's help support the non-profit organizations Smile Train andOperation Smile to give these children a second chance at life. Emmanuel De La Cruz MD, PLLC

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