More infants getting tongues clipped to help development

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BOSTON New mothers who were noticing if their baby is having trouble nursing or drinking from a bottle were turning to online forums for advice, according to an article published by TODAY

They landed on learning about "tongue-tying."
It's a process where an infant's tongue is tethered to the floor of their mouth by a small piece of tissue that makes it difficult to properly latch on and suck.

The problem can be corrected with a simple surgical procedure that cuts away the tissue.

But Boston researchers question if that is even necessary.

Massachusetts doctor, Christopher Hartnick, said: “We have seen the number of tongue-tie and upper lip tether release surgeries increase dramatically nationwide without any real strong data to show these are effective for breastfeeding.”

These researchers launched a study including 115 babies who were referred to a pediatric ear nose and throat surgeon for tongue-tie and/or upper-lip tie surgery. Upper-lip tie occurs when a small piece of tissue tethers the upper-lip to the gums, according to the article.

For 63 percent of the babies, the procedure wasn't needed, according to their findings published Thursday in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery. The babies learned to successfully breastfeed following a thorough feeding evaluation from teams of clinicians, including a speech-language pathologist.

The study did not specify if the children were misdiagnosed or if they underwent alternative non-surgical treatments to relieve their tongue problems.

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