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Seeking the cause, and the end

While our volunteers work tirelessly to correct children’s facial deformities, Operation Smile also works for a better understanding about the occurrence of clefts, in hopes of reducing the incidence of cleft lip and cleft palate altogether.

Through our Research Department, doctors and researchers are collaborating globally to improve the future for children born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate. The Research Department works in collaboration with universities and research institutions, always following the principles of modern research ethics. Every research project is approved by a local ethics committee (Institutional Review Board). Based on current knowledge, several recommendations to lower the incidence of oral clefts have been proposed, but more research is needed to be more effective in this endeavor.

The International Family Study

The International Family Study, a collaborative research project examining genetic characteristics of clefts. The study is implemented with supports from University of South California was piloted in Vietnam in 2012 and is continuing in the countries in 2014 and the coming years.

DNA samples and epidemiological data were collected from patients and their parents and from healthy newborns and their families for control. Nearly 300 samples have been collected in Vietnam in 2012 and the collection will be continued in November 2014 at all sites where Vietnam implements 25th anniversary medical missions.

This is currently being done with the purpose of enhancing knowledge of gene-environment interactions and how they influence the incidence of clefting in different populations.

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