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Monday, 29 August 2011

Tongue-tied but not for long

Quick word of advice: if your baby is born with a Tongue-tie, ask the hospital to snip it asap. It's the best time to deal with it and avoids anaesthetised operations and speech therapy later on.

As a newborn, tongue-tied Leon was feeding well so the hospital advised to leave it, and see if it 'snapped' or 'stretched'. A few months later our GP eventually referred us to paediatric ENT after we raised our concerns about how it would effect his language learning and noting how there been no 'snapping' or 'stretching' of the frenulum linguae (the extra skin attaching the Tongue to the bottom of the mouth).

At 6 months, we saw the ENT consultant, and reluctant to operate on it- given no current inconvenience to Leon or the feeding - he asked us to come back after Leon turned 1. We were told it was likely to stretch - but reading the word of WikiPedia (reliable source!) it probably wouldn't have changed significantly.

During early gestation (as early as 4 weeks) the lingual frenulum serves as a guide for the forward growth of the tongue. After birth the tip of the tongue continues to elongate, giving the impression of the frenulum retracting, though in reality this has been going on for some time before birth. This is what gives the impression that the frenulums of some previously tongue-tied infants will "stretch" with age and growth. In reality the tongue often just grows beyond the frenulum, although some do also stretch and/or rupture after mild accidents. Many others continue to cause problems throughout life, unless corrected

Now almost 20 months old Leon is saying a few words. At the recent consultation with Mr ENT I listed all the reasons we wanted the snip:
- We're raising him trilingual and although vocalising well, we don't want to make it harder for him to pronounce certain sounds with a tongue-tie
- Socially, we don't want him to be teased for a lisp or unable to stick out his tongue
- More to hubby's concern, he needs full use of his tongue to be be able to 'French Kiss' amongst other things... (I DON'T want to think of my toddler engaging in that kind of stuff, but I remember an emotional plea from a 13 year old girl on a Netmums forum telling how awful it was to have a tongue-tie that she couldn't get a boyfriend and "please deal with your child's tongue-tie if they have on" That stuck with me)

I asked for recommendations on hospitals to approach should we need to do it privately, armed with a short-list of 3 London hospitals found at the Baby Friendly Initiative by UNICEF.

Mr ENT agreed to the operation but I could tell he was reluctant. I suppose it's preferable to avoid surgery on a toddler- particularly if it involves having a general anaesthetic for 15 mins, but I was happy with the outcome. He explained that it will bleed a bit but should scar over quickly ie. No need for stitches. Doesn't sound too bad- but hard to think of a little 20 month old going under for an operation.

All I had to do was sit and wait for the letter with the date. I received the letter.

However, the operation is due in November- TWO days before we have a 12-hour flight to Mexico. Brilliant. I couldn't get through to Mr ENTs secretary on Friday so fingers crossed it will be OK or we'll need to change it for our return...


  1. What an inconvenient time for an operation. I hope you manage to sort the appointment and that the operation doesn't bother Leon too much.

    My partner's sister has an 11-month-old girl who has problems with her tongue (it's not shaped properly or something) but every health visitor or GP she's spoken to has said to leave it for now. I hope she doesn't end up needing surgery.

    Also, I hope this isn't out of line, but I've seen your younger sisters videos (it's actually how I saw your blog) and I wanted to send my condolences. x

  2. Thanks that's very sweet- not out of line at all. She's a lot braver than me putting that all out there! Might post about toddler and foetus reactions though..

    Poor little girl, I hope it's OK for her and not uncomfortable. I suppose surgery isn't always necessary and doctors prefer to deal around the 'problem' with speech therapy if needed. But to know that a tongue-tie can be dealt with so easily without need for surgery when they're tiny rather than having to undergo an operation as a toddler is annoying! I hope she doesn't need anything either x