What is a tongue-tie?
Tongue-tie (also known as ankyloglossia) is when the underside of the tongue is attached to the bottom of the mouth by a tight, short frenulum, normally extending further toward the tip of the tongue than is normal. That said, it can vary in severity - posterior tongue-ties can also cause an issue however, these are not as obvious to see. Whilst a tongue-tie is unpreventable due to a hereditary condition or midline defect during fetal development, the tongue-tie can restrict the normal function of the tongue and make feeding difficult, so a simple division can make a world of difference.
What effect can tongue-tie have on feeding?
Tongue-tie can affect both breast and bottle fed babies causing issues such as continued feeding difficulties, unresolved weight problems, being unsettled or suffering with reflux.
Breastfed babies can find it difficult to latch on the breast, tiring quickly when feeding and not getting the fattening hind milk needed for growth and fulfilment. Others tend to fuss at the breast where they are unable to maintain a seal around the breast and make repeated attempts to latch on, becoming frustrated. Babies tend to then loose weight or gain very slowly which can be a concerning and stressful time for parents. Mums can suffer with sore, cracked nipples along with engorgement (where the breast is not effectively emptied), mastitis or reduced milk supply.
Bottle fed babies can be extremely dribbley, sometimes squirting milk out the side of their mouths. They too can struggle to get a latch on the bottle and can take a long time to feed, tiring as they do so. Many babies tend to take on a lot of wind due to the poor seal and can be very unsettled, which can be upsetting for the parents to see.
Although there is no way of knowing what will happen in the future, if a baby is tongue-tied there maybe issues with weaning and speech as the child grows due to the restricted movement of the tongue. Recent research has however, concluded that was a significant improvement in speech outcomes and tongue mobility when a tongue-tie division was performed, therefore a long-term benefit beyond breastfeeding has been recognised.