More and more babies have tongue-tie surgery these days, but most of them do not need it. According to new research, a feeding evaluation is enough to fix the majority of cases.
Babies who are "tongue-tied" have a condition called ankyloglossia. The piece of tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth (the lingual frenulum) is too tight, and restricts the tongue's movement. This can affect breastfeeding and later, speech.
Tongue-tie can cause painful nursing for the mother and limited milk intake for the baby. When a newborn is not getting the proper amount of milk, it is a serious issue that requires medical attention.
Tongue-tied babies can undergo surgery to clip the lingual frenulum. The procedure is known as a frenotomy, frenectomy, or frenulectomy. Breastfeeding is a valuable gift to give a baby, so it is great treatment for tongue-tie exists. But is it really necessary?
Tongue-tie is a hot topic in online parenting forums, and tongue-tie surgery is happening more and more frequently. However, minimal medical research has looked into the effectiveness or necessity of this procedure.
The researchers studied 115 cases where infants were referred for tongue-tie surgery. A pediatric speech-language pathologist performed a comprehensive feeding evaluation on each mother-infant pair. This included a review of clinical history, an oral exam, and a feeding observation. Lastly, mothers received feedback and strategies to help them breastfeed successfully.
As a result of the feeding evaluations, 62.6 percent of the infants did not undergo the surgeries.
Tongue-tie is certainly a real medical condition. Surgery is necessary in some cases, and it can save a breastfeeding relationship. Breastfeeding is instrumental in babies' development. Any procedure that can preserve a mother's ability to nurse is a miracle.
That being said, most babies undergoing tongue-tie surgery do not actually need it. Parents who are concerned about feeding issues or suspect tongue-tie should consult their physician. If referred for surgery, it may be wise to seek a second opinion before proceeding.