Comprehensive Cleft Care Program – SMILE TRAIN Project

A dedicated facility for the comprehensive management of children born with Cleft lip and palate has been initiated in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Kattankulathur, The cleft care is carried out by a multidisciplinary team of Anaesthesiology Peadiatrics, ENT, Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics, Speech, Language Pathology and Audiology, Clinical Psychology, Community Medicine, Nutrition. Nursing and Psychology. Other support services are Dept of Radiology, Blood Bank etc.

In pursuit of excellence, the cleft care program of SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Kattankulathur, is to partner with ‘Smile Train’ an international organisation devoted exclusively to the noble cause of helping provide totally free treatment for any child born with cleft lip and palate, through credentialed hospitals worldwide. This partnership would help to establish the cleft care program in our institution as a “centre of excellence” for provision of safe and quality care delivered on par with international standards. Smile Train - India, has consented to consider our application for partnering following the credentialing process.

The most common deformity of the face is cleft lip and/or cleft palate of one or both sides. This congenital deformity happens during the 8th to 12th week of foetal development. The possibility of early diagnosis and treatment planning starts from prenatal diagnosis through postnatal first consultation with a Paediatrician and Cleft palate Surgeon. In a cleft team, the feeding issues can be easily addressed by a qualified nurse who trains the mother and family members to use specialized feeding bottles and correct feeding postures and techniques to provide necessary nourishment. A healthy child with cleft lip/palate is often ready to undergo a correction procedure for cleft lip as early as 3 months and 9 months for a cleft palate.

In addition to correction of the cleft, issues related to speech, hearing, dentition, facial growth, etc. will have to be dealt with in a child with cleft during their growth and development. Later secondary reconstructive surgeries including Alveolar Bone Grafting (ABG), Rhinoplasty, jaw corrective surgeries, etc. may be required at different ages from adolescence through adulthood.

The need for long-term, multidisciplinary intervention has driven us to establish a comprehensive cleft care program with an opportunity to evolve as a Centre of Excellence. The ultimate objective is “to provide all the required care for a child born with cleft lip palate and craniofacial deformity addressed under a single roof by specialised professionals, enabling smiles across faces”.