On The Bright Side: How COVID-19 Has Elicited More Charitable Giving To Help Children

It was very inspiring when I read the recent survey result by Smile Train revealing that since COVID-19, most Americans gave to charitable organizations with the main intent to help children. Smile Train is one of the few mission-based organizations with which I am actively involved due to their sustainable model of supporting locally-based surgeries around the world. Although the pandemic resulted in Smile Train putting 39,000 lifesaving surgeries on hold, they are well on their way to catching up and closing this deficit. Children are the primary focus of Smile Train because every 3 minutes a child is born with a cleft. And that doesn’t stop even during a pandemic. Since April of last year, they have supported more than 30,000 cleft surgeries in over 55 countries. https://www.smiletrain.org/news/most-americans-gave-charity-during-covid-19-pandemic-main-cause-helping-children-smile-train). Many organizations have also worked during the period of COVID to provide needed care to children, and it is great to see support from the public for these missions


It is, and always has been, my passion and priority in practice to collaborate on meaningful initiatives with organizations that focus on improving surgical outcomes, healthcare delivery, patient safety, and quality control standards in surgical reconstruction. Children deserve the best medical and surgical care we can provide, and it is a privilege to work alongside local and international teams to do so. Smile Train is the world’s largest cleft-focused organization, with a sustainable and local model of supporting surgery and other forms of essential care. Over the last 20+ years, this organization has supported safe and quality cleft care for 1.5+ million children. Their mission is to continue to do so until every child with a cleft has access to the care they deserve. What a wonderful mission!


Lifestyle Risk Factors That May Be Associated With Orofacial Cleft In Newborns

Clefts are associated with a variety of factors such as genetics, environmental, and lifestyle factors that increase the chance of having a baby with an orofacial cleft. Many other clefts are sporadic and are not linked to any known cause. It is important to become familiar with some of the risk factors associated with orofacial clefts.  I always recommend that you talk to your doctor for more information about clefts and cleft-related conditions.

The Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes some factors that increase the chance of having a baby with an orofacial cleft:

Smoking―Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with an orofacial cleft than women who do not smoke.

Diabetes―Women with diabetes diagnosed before pregnancy have an increased risk of having a child with a cleft lip with or without cleft palate, compared to women who did not have diabetes.

Use of certain medicines―Women who used certain medicines to treat epilepsy, such as topiramate or valproic acid, during the first trimester (the first 3 months) of pregnancy have an increased risk of having a baby with cleft lip with or without cleft palate, compared to women who didn’t take these medicines.



Regarding the COVID impact, I share the sentiment of Smile Train’s President & CEO, Susannah Schaefer, who states, “To know that giving back to children not only continues to be a main charitable focus for Americans but that it has increased as a priority after a challenging year for all, is extremely faith-restoring.” Smile Train survey revealed that, “most Americans (91%) say it is more important to support charities and fundraising events now versus prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 41% of Americans say their donation patterns have increased, with 31% sharing that their giving amount has also increased.”



Let’s all continue the essence of giving to help children in our communities and around the world. Regardless of which organization you partner with, the important thing is to continue the spirit of charitable giving that impacts the lives of those that are touched.