Tongue Tie

March 5th, 2008 · No Comments

Tongue tie (or Ankyloglossia to give it its proper name) is a condition where the piece of skin (frenulum) under the baby’s tongue is short, and can stop the tongue from moving properly. Although it does not always cause a problem, some babies can have difficulty with breastfeeding, as the baby cannot take enough of the breast into his/her mouth.

PROBLEMS WITH BREASTFEEDING MAY INCLUDE

  • Not latching on properly
  • Falling off the breast easily
  • Sore nipples for mum
  • Baby does not gain much weight
  • Seems to want to feed constantly
  • Poor drainage of milk can lead to Mastitis
    (click here for information on Mastitis)


WHAT CAN BE DONE TO CHANGE THIS?

If you are having the above problems, and think your baby has a tongue tie it will need to be reported to your GP, midwife, health visitor or peer supporter. They can then refer your baby to a specialist infant feeding clinic for it to be looked at. Royal Preston hospital offers a tongue-tie clinic where they are seen by the Infant Feeding Specialists and a Paediatrician (children’s doctor). Young babies can actually have the tie snipped by a doctor if they feel it is necessary and in most cases it helps the baby to feed better.

HOW IS IT DONE?

Once the baby has been seen by the Paediatrician they then return to a special ENT (ear nose and throat) session and a Surgeon snips the tongue tie with sterilised scissors. The procedure actually lasts only a minute, and research shows that some babies have actually stayed asleep whilst having it done, so there is no proof that it actually hurts them! As soon as the operation is over, your baby is returned to you for feeding, as this is the best way to comfort him/her. A few drops of blood may be seen and this is normal, but the inside of the mouth heals quicker than any other part of the body, so all baby needs is to be fed and cuddled. You may see a small white patch under the tongue where the tie was snipped but it does not seem to cause any discomfort.

THE FUTURE

In a recent study of babies who had been given the tie snip, it was found that 80% of mothers reported better breastfeeding within 24 hours. Not all babies who have a tongue tie will need surgery to correct it, it will be based on how bad it is, but it may help your baby to breastfeed more easily.

Written with guidance from “division of Ankyloglossia (tongue-tie) for breastfeeding” (NICE 2005) and Lancashire Teaching Hospital’s Trust “infant tongue frenulotomy service care pathway” (2007)

Tags: Information · Tongue Tie

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