Parents warned about 'dangerous fad' of tongue-tie operations.

When a newspaper reports that parents are rushing out to have a ”bizarre surgical” procedure performed on their babies you take notice.

When the report goes on to say that doctors are warning the procedure could be dangerous you read on.

"There is a fear campaign operating out there and it is being driven by dentists and lactation consultants and osteopaths." Image via IStock.

When you realise that one of these very parents who rushed out to have one of these very procedures performed on not just one, but all three of their babies is you then you begin to question your parenting.

According to a recent report in News Limited people just like me are falling for a “fad” of having their babies tongue-ties corrected by an “unnecessary procedure”.”

A Lismore paediatrician told News Limited the tongue-tie “was the new black.”

“It’s an operation performed on something that heals itself over time,” Dr Chris Ingall said

There is an increase in tongue-tie procedures. Image via IStock.

“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.”

When my oldest child was born he was declared perfect. A little on the small side, but he was five weeks early so that was understandable.

A little on the jaundice side, but that was fixed. He was a delicious weight in my arms.

Everything I imagined and absolutely nothing could go wrong.

Until I tried to get that whole breastfeeding thing under control and his paediatrician examined him for the first time.

Shauna and hr son jasper when he was diagnosed with a tongue-tie. ( Image supplied)

Oh. There’s your problem he clucked at me.

For a first time mother, in hospital, struggling with breastfeeding there isn’t much more heart stopping than being told your baby has a “problem.”

It was a tongue-tie, something I had never heard of,  but something that was, according to the experienced and well-regarded paediatrician, in his case quite severe but quite treatable.

A tongue tie, also known as ‘Ankyloglossia’ or ‘anchored tongue' occurs when the cord that stretches from under the tongue to the floor of the mouth is short and restricts the mobility of the tongue.

The doctor along with the lactation consultant at the hospital told me that it was the tongue-tie on my two-day-old baby that was causing breastfeeding problems, he wasn’t gaining weight and he was feeding round the clock. They told me he needed it snipped and promptly.

When you first become a parent your focus becomes pin pointed, nothing else exists outside your world. While I was well aware that there were babies struggling with much more serious problems even just rooms away the thought of my newborn being ‘snipped’ was difficult.

I’m going to cut this story short right here because as we all know other people’s children’s minor health issues don’t make compelling reading. At four-days-old I took him to paediatric dentist who lasered his tongue-tie. There was a tiny amount of blood and I fed him straight afterwards.

Jasper at 6 months - showing off his happily released tongue. Image supplied.

I then breastfed him for 18 months.

Three children later all three of mine have had tongue-ties.

All three have been ‘snipped’ and all three successfully breastfed.


Now I am no doctor or lactation expert so I have no clue whether or not they would have breastfed successfully anyway – what I do know was that the procedure worked successfully for us.

However according to Dr Deborah Bailey a paediatric surgeon for over 30 years, the numbers of babies being lasered or 'snipped' is increasing rapidly and concerning.

“Tongue tie exists, and can have a negative impact on breastfeeding, leading to the cessation of breastfeeding, and all the wonderful benefits” Image via IStock.

She told News Limited “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.”

Lactation consultant Heather Gale however believes there is nothing concerning. Along with others she responded to the article saying that in her experience correcting a tongue-tie had benefits that could last a lifetime.

“Tongue tie exists, and can have a negative impact on breastfeeding, leading to the cessation of breastfeeding, and all the wonderful benefits,” she wrote.

Tongue-tie is an issue. The international body of evidence is astounding, and there are many adults who can contest to the benefits they have experienced since having a 'lived with' tongue tie released.”

As a mother of three tongue tied babies who all went on to breastfeed successfully my advice to someone concerned about their baby would be to speak to a range of professionals – your paediatrician, lactation consultant and the Australasian Society for Tongue & Lip Ties because none of us want to doubt our parenting through fear by alarming headlines -  all we want to do is the best by our children and make the most informed decision we can.