A WARNING has been issued to new parents about the practice of tongue snipping in newborn babies.

Parents are outraged after Dr Thomas Lyons, of Eagleby Medical Centre,  said the tongue tie procedure, frenotomy, was painful to babies and “ also unnecessary and costly to parents.”

The news comes after Jimmy Rees, aka Jimmy Giggles, withdrew from ‘Dancing With The Stars’ to spend time with his family after his baby son’s recent health scare following a tongue tie procedure.

mack

“All the research that doctors have done show that very few babies have benefited from it.”

Dr Lyons said parents were getting it done at day two or three of life when they did not even know if there was a problem.

“I’m recommending they don’t listen to their lactation consultant – that they get a second opinion from their GP who will monitor the baby’s weight,” he said.

Lismore paediatrician Dr Chris Ingall said tongue tie “was the new black” and he was concerned by the increasing number of babies being treated for it.

“It’s an operation performed on something that heals itself over time,” Dr Ingall said. “Mothers are being told their children will not be able to speak properly and that their jaws won’t grow properly, so there is a fear campaign operating out there and it is being driven by dentists and lactation consultants and osteopaths referring to each other. They’ve turned nothing into something.”

Dr Deborah Bailey said: “I’ve been a paediatric surgeon for 30 years and I would have done maybe half a dozen a year in older children, now babies are being done at about 30 a day.”

Dr Thomas Lyons claimed lactation consultants and midwives were “creating an industry”.

“I’m shocked that it is now a common practice,” he said.

In 2010-11 there were 739 babies treated for tongue tie in NSW but by 2014-15 this figure had leapt to 2178.

Worldwide tongue tie surgery rates are rising. In one Australian study, tongue tie surgery rates rose by 3,710%. Canada recorded an 89% increase, the USA a 300% increase.

Dr Lyons said if the baby was not gaining weight, looked sick and was malnourished they can easily be feed from the bottle with no problems to growth at all, but breast feeding may not be possible.

“What I’m saying is that there is no rush, that parents should wait a couple weeks and get a second opinion,” he said.

“They’re recommending the tongue snip without discussing the alternatives that their baby may grow up well on just the bottle.”

Mum of three Laura Mazza has previously shared her battle to get support with a tongue tie diagnosis. Read her story here.

And another Mum shared her experience of tongue tie after her newborn’s dramatic weight loss – read more here.

Symptoms of tongue-tie

The symptoms of tongue-tie can include that:

•the tongue can’t poke out past the lips
•the tongue tip can’t touch the roof of the mouth
•the tongue can’t be moved sideways to the corners of the mouth
•the tongue tip may look flat or square, instead of pointy when extended
•the tongue tip may look notched or heart-shaped
•A baby with tongue-tie may have difficulties breastfeeding or bottle-feeding
•The front teeth in the lower jaw may have a gap between them.

Causes of tongue-tie
There are two main causes of tongue-tie. Either the frenum is too short and tight, or it failed to move back down the tongue during development and is still attached to the tongue tip. In the second case, a heart-shaped tongue tip is one of the obvious symptoms. It is not clear whether or not tongue-tie is inherited.

Tongue-tie in toddlers seems to be less common than in babies, which suggests that a short frenum can normalise itself as the child grows. In persistent cases of tongue-tie, the child may have certain speech problems.

Difficulties can include creating sounds that need the tongue or tongue tip to:

•touch the roof of the mouth, to pronounce sounds such as ‘t, d, n, l, s, z’
•arch off the floor of the mouth, to pronounce sounds such as ‘r’.

The Australian Breastfeeding Assoc says some babies with tongue-tie are able to attach to the breast and suck well. However, many have breastfeeding problems, such as nipple damage, poor milk transfer and low weight gains in the baby, and recurrent blocked ducts or mastitis due to ineffective milk removal.

A baby needs to be able to cup the breast with his tongue to be able to remove milk from the breast well. If the tongue is anchored to the floor of the mouth, the baby cannot do this as well. The baby may not be able to open his mouth wide enough to take in a full mouthful of breast tissue. This can result in ‘nipple-feeding’ because the nipple is not drawn far enough back in the baby’s mouth and constantly rubs against the baby’s hard palate as he feeds. As a result, the mother is likely to suffer nipple trauma.

There are many signs that a baby’s tongue-tie may be causing problems with breastfeeding, but you don’t have to have all of them:
•nipple pain and damage
•the nipple looks flattened after breastfeeding
•you can see a compression/stripe mark on the nipple at the end of a breastfeed
•the baby keeps losing suction while feeding and sucks in air
•the baby makes a clicking sound when feeding
•the baby fails to gain weight well
•the tip of his tongue may be notched or heart-shaped when he cries
•he may readily gag

It is important to note that all of the above signs can be related to other breastfeeding problems and are not necessarily related to tongue-tie. If you experience any of the signs above, you may wish to consult an expert.

Share your comments below.

 

Image via Getty


  • I just wanted to flag that a GP is no a specialist in decided whether a baby has a tongue tie or not. Tongue ties can actually be very hard to identify! You are best to go straight to a paediatrician who specialises in tongue tie AND a speech pathologist who also specialises in tongue tie!

    Reply


  • This Dr saying it’s a fad and a ‘new thing’ is outrageous. Makes me so angry. Tounge (and lip ties) can have serious and sometimes lifelong implications. It’s dangerous and wrong for this Dr to say “well too many are being done so just leave it if you’re told your child has one”
    Parents need the right specialists and seek out opinions until they are comfortable.
    2 of mine had tounge tie and 1 had a severe lip tie as well as tounge. It affected her feeding and was told it would affect speech in the future. I decided to get hers fixed at about 3 weeks old – after seeing how much her feeding was affected, sleeping and not thriving. I’ve had to work on speech with her due to the lip tie. She’s Fantastic as a toddler but I’ve been proactive in speech and forming sounds, letters. My other child had a mild tounge tie and again I waited to see how it affected him. In the end his feeding was fine so didn’t have it cut, but was regularly monitored and check ups. If needed I wouldn’t have hesitated to get it done.
    All parents want the best for their kids and don’t just have procedures done on a whim or as ‘a fad’.
    My mother mocked me for having my kids tounge tie treated saying she’d never heard of it when she had kids but ‘every second new mum has a baby with it’. I ignored her and did what was best for my kids. Turns out I have tounge tie myself – only mild but never treated obviously and my mother still doesn’t believe I have it.
    Parents need to trust their instincts and see specialists who know what they’re doing.

    Reply


  • Very scary and concerning information indeed.

    Reply


  • We were told to watch one of our bubs to see how he fed but he did well. His tongue tie improved as he got older. I am actually partly tongue tied too, as is my Dad. I can’t poke tongues well, and mum had to put me on a bottle, but otherwise doesn’t worry me.

    Reply


  • Did not work for my baby
    Consultant recommended
    Distraught and more emotional knowing it hadn’t worked

    Reply


  • You should always check with your doctor or get a specialists opinion.

    Reply


  • My son had an upper lip. Now corrected. He was struggling to feed and taking in a lot of wind.

    We had multiple checks and opions before acting on it.
    No matter how well researched or prepared you are… bad things can happen. But it doesn’t mean lip and tongue ties are afad. No mother wants to get their baby snipped for fun just to be apart of the fad

    Reply


  • This is a timely article but the bottom line is that you should consult with an experienced speech pathologist who are the experts in tongue tie. They liaise with paediatric ENTs who are also specialised in this area. A GP is a great starting point but they are not the experts in tongue tie. Tongue tie is not a black and white area and thus you need tailored and specific input from the experts. I hope this little guy recovers soon.

    Reply


  • Wow, this is so upsetting and concerning. I was told my son had a tongue tie and we didn’t do anything with it. I believe it corrected itself. We trust the experts and the medical profession, especially as first-time Mums, and this is so upsetting that unnecessary procedures are done to our little babies. I agree, time needs to pass before it’s considered – maybe there’s a minimum age that a child needs to be first.

    Reply


  • This is so not fair. Makes me beyond curious. Doctors do not do extra study to be experts in this area and simply do not know how to treat them, nor do they seem to want to learn. They should always be reviewed by a specialist DENTIST it is not a doctor issue, one who has done extra study in this field. Tongue ties need to be treated appropriately and need to be taken seriously. I’m so sick of Doctors calling it a fad or something that doesn’t exist!!!! It has serious implications long term if not treated appropriately

    Reply


  • I’m sorry but posts like this (and this isn’t the first time MoMs has posted one like this) makes me furious.
    My son (3rd child) had a profound upper lip tie and severe tongue tie. The nurses noticed it when he was born, but as he breast fed ok, they said he would be ok. He wasn’t. The moment we started trying to feeds solids, he was gagging and choking and vomiting. He couldn’t move his tongue enough to move the food so it went right to the back of his throat and would choke him.
    It took MONTHS to get the medical help he needed. He was 13 months old before he had a general anaesthetic procedure to “snip” his ties. This required us to travel 400+ km to our nearest capital city as no where closer could do it.
    Sorry but “doctors” who claim tongue and lip ties are a “fad” should be dis-barred from practicing. My son was still struggling to learn to eat solids at 2 years old and is still having speech therapy because of the ongoing effects of not having had the toes cut when he was born.
    Parents – if your baby is born with ties, keep going to doctors until you find one who doesn’t call them a “fad” and will help you.
    And MoMs – please stop posting fear mongering articles and instead focus on posting articles that actually help parents!

    Reply


  • It is going to cost my sister thousands of dollars to repair my nieces teeth, and the dentist told her that if she had her ties done as a baby it would more than likely have avoided the issues she is having now.

    Reply


  • A second opinion and lots of research are the go but they would have done that anyway. I hope you all heal from this fast xo

    Reply


  • Hope Jimmy and his family is relaxed now n lil boy is on the way to healing. Couldn’t imagine what it would be like with my kids being tongue tied.

    Reply


  • Oh my gosh how scary! So glad none of my kids had a tongue tie

    Reply

Post a comment
Like Facebook page

LIKE MoM on Facebook

Please enter your comment below
Would you like to include a photo?

No picture uploaded yet
Please wait to see your image preview here before hitting the submit button.

Your MoM account

Lost your password?

Enter your email and a password below to post your comment and join MoM:

↥ Back to top

Thanks For Your Star Rating!

Would you like to add a written rating or just submit?

Write A Rating Just Submit
Join