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Smokers, alcoholics, diabetics risk having children with cleft – Expert

Pregnant women and parents in the country have been warned to be mindful of the drugs and food they take in order to avoid giving…

Pregnant women and parents in the country have been warned to be mindful of the drugs and food they take in order to avoid giving birth to children with cleft.

The team leader of a US based philanthropic organisation, Smile Train International, Abdulrasheed Nasir, handed down the warning on Tuesday in Ilį»rin, Kwara state capital, during an awareness programme.

The programme is in partnership with the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), to mark the World Cleft Day.

He said over 200 children with cleft lips and palates have been treated in the last 16 years.

AbdulRasheed lamented the rate of stigma against patients with cleft among the people.

According to him, cleft is a mixture of genetics and environmental factors and warned pregnant mothers to be careful of the drugs and food they take.

“Genetics when combined with environmental factors like food and drugs may lead to having babies with clefts.

“Mothers who are diabetics, smoke, take alcohol or are obese are at risk of having babies with clefts. Drugs used for seizure or convulsion may also cause it.

“So it is important for pregnant mothers and parents to watch the food or drugs they take”, he noted.

He said one out of 700 children in the world has the problem.

“Those affected cannot smile, food comes out from their nostrils when they eat and some choose not to talk in public as it affects the quality of their speech.”

“Many don’t go to school because they can’t face their peers. That’s why we’re creating this awareness to make everyone smile.

“Several hundreds of children are born like this and because of the psychological impact, parents who deliver such babies become unhappy, throw away the children or kill them just because they’re ashamed”, he noted.

He said the organisation in partnership with the UITH is sponsoring free care, surgery, drug investigation for the children anywhere they are.

The medical expert said the care and surgery is available at the UITH on Wednesdays throughout the year.

He therefore called on affected parents not to be ashamed but make their children available for treatment and repair.

“You would be amazed to see treated children after the surgery, they look happy and beautiful”, he submitted.

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