One of the most intimate moments shared between mother and baby is during breastfeeding. If the infant does not latch on to the mother’s breast she may feel rejected, bewildered and frustrated. Before becoming distressed a mother should look into reasons why the baby is refusing to breastfeed; one of which could be a condition called ankyloglossia, otherwise known as tongue-tie.
Tongue-Tie is a congenital condition which restricts the tongue’s range of motion. It is caused by an abnormally thick and short lingual frenulum. The frenulum is the membrane which connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. The degree of severity in tongue-tie varies from mild cases, where the lingual frenulum loosens over time or severe cases of complete ankyloglossia where the tongue is tethered to the floor of the mouth. This can affect feeding.
Breastfeeding requires the baby to place the tongue over the lower gum while sucking. If the infant‘s range of motion is limited and is unable to place the tongue in the right position, this will interfere with the ability to get milk. Poor breastfeeding can lead to poor nutrition.
A consultation with a lactation specialist or physician to explore all causes for breast-feeding refusal is usually the first step in evaluating the baby. If it is determined that the infant does have severe tongue-tie and the ability to feed is compromised, a simple and quick surgery may be suggested.
The surgical procedure most commonly recommended is called a frenotomy; which can be done with or without anesthesia. During the procedure a physician will examine the frenulum, then use sterile scissors to snip it free. A frenotomy can also be done by laser. The physician may also recommend a frenectomy which is a surgical revision of the frenulum.
After surgery the infant’s tongue movement should improve greatly and in most cases breastfeeding can commence immediately.
To obtain more information about breastfeeding or to schedule a consultation with a lactation specialist at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-291-3276.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.