Newborn tongue-tie: follow the money!

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Earlier this week I wrote about a baby suffering from breastfeeding starvation for 9 weeks.

The poor baby — living in a country where copious infant formula and the clean water to prepare it are easily available — nonetheless looks like a famine victim. His arms are stick thin and his ribs are showing.

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The baby is a victim of the torture known as breastfeeding promotion. Lactation professionals have put their beliefs and goals ahead of the wellbeing of babies.

Why no pictures of the tongue-tie? Could it be that the baby didn’t have one?

As Milk Matters UK the organization run by lactation consultant Charlotte Young (the Analytical Armadillo) acknowledged, the baby’s mother had frantically consulted multiple NHS professionals (and possibly private professionals as well) for weeks. Despite this, the baby was DENIED the EMERGENCY TREATMENT — food — he needed to relieve his ongoing torture. It would have been incredibly easy to give this baby formula either by bottle or by NG tube if he couldn’t suck effectively.

Instead, professionals exploited this baby to promote their philosophical goals.

[O]ne midwife noted some concerns and suggested a feeding group, where they were told to stop expressing and supplementing, relax and just “feed feed feed”. Seen weekly at jaundice clinic, reluctant to weigh but did after mum pressure, no concerns noted.

The baby continues to be exploited, now by Milk Matters UK, attempting to market their expensive services. If you have any doubts about their priorities, their Facebook page helpfully leads with the services:

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Their primary, and apparently most lucrative service (at $280/hour) is the diagnosis and treatment of tongue-tie … and this baby received the diagnosis and treatment.

In case you think this isn’t about marketing their lucrative services, just 6 hours ago, Milk Matters UK edited the post to highlight the diagnosis of tongue-tie and to claim — deceptively — that the baby was not exclusively breastfed. The professionals INSISTED that the baby should be exclusively breastfed; the mother intermittently ignored them (and by so doing may have saved the baby’s life).

Milk Matters UK posted pictures taken at the the follow up appointment (almost $100 for 30 minutes).

Did anyone notice what they haven’t posted? There are no pictures of the supposed tongue-tie and no pictures of the results of treatment.

Why not?

Could it be that the baby didn’t have a visible tie and didn’t need any treatment, let alone surgery?

If so, it would hardly be the first time. A recent study in JAMA Otolaryngology found nearly two-thirds of cases (62%) of tongue-tie surgeries recommended by lactation consultants are unnecessary.

The press release explains:

Despite a lack of medical literature linking the surgery to improved breastfeeding, the number of these procedures has been rapidly rising in recent years, the authors point out, noting that the Kids’ Inpatient Database in the United States estimated a 10-fold increase in tongue-tie surgeries from 1,279 in 1997 to 12,406 in 2012…

The researchers examined 115 newborns who were referred to the clinic for tongue tie surgery with a pediatric ENT. There, each mother-newborn pair met with a pediatric speech-language pathologist, who performed a comprehensive feeding evaluation including clinical history, oral exam and observation of breastfeeding. They then offered real-time feedback and strategies to address the hypothesized cause of their breastfeeding challenges.

Following the multidisciplinary feeding evaluation, 62.6 percent of the newborns did not undergo the surgeries.

And even among the babies who did ultimately need surgery, nearly all were misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed by the referring lactation consultants:

Although all of the referrals were for tongue tie surgery specifically, 10 (8.7 percent) underwent a lip tie surgery alone and 32 (27.8 percent) underwent both lip and tongue tie surgery.

This is a dramatic example of the fact that breastfeeding is an industry that seeks to increase their profits by lucrative “diagnosis” of breastfeeding problems. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To a lactation consultant, everyone looks like they can benefit from breastfeeding “support” and “treatment.”

New parents should know that the diagnosis of tongue-tie has exploded without any evidence that the underlying rate of tongue-tie has changed. Most studies have not yielded objective evidence that surgery improves breastfeeding and most babies recommended for surgery by lactation consultants do not need it.

As for Milk Matters UK, without pictures of the supposed tongue-tie and pictures post treatment, there’s no reason to believe that the $380 spent so far did anything other than enrich those who recommended it.

  • naomi

    ok boomer

  • Who?
  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    The irony here, of course, is that the same idiots who tell us about how women’s bodies are designed for breastfeeding and if we couldn’t breastfeed we wouldn’t have survived evolution are also the ones telling us that all these babies need surgery for tongue-tie.

    We can expect women’s bodies to work as they are designed (or whatever that obnoxious line was), but apparently not babies’?

  • mabelcruet

    Theres a fancy name for it I’ve seen being used-you know how lactivists like to use sciency sounding words like galactopoiesis and lactogenesis II and microbiome? There’s another one-no more tongue tie, its TOTS (tethered oral tissues syndrome). I’d imagine telling parents their baby has a syndrome is a sure way of getting them to hand over wads of cash to treat it.

  • Melly

    My second son was diagnosed with tongue tie at birth, by the paediatrician in the hospital. I asked if that was a problem she said not necessarily, but we should keep an eye on his speech as he grows.
    I remember from Day 1, feeling like I was overproducing milk. I would nurse him, but my breasts wouldn’t feel emptied. He slept a LOT compared to my first, but all babies are different, right? Every time he fed, I would have to change my shirt, as milk would run down from the side of his mouth. LCs told me everything was fine.
    Then his weight fan slowed, and stopped. Family Dr thought tongue tie might be the issue. We were referred. Then one week (at three months old) he lost a whole ounce of weight. I decided to switch to bottle feeding. He attacked the bottle, sucked for ten minutes. Had only managed to consume one ounce of milk.
    Tongue tie revision completely resolved the issue. My child was starving and then he wasn’t.
    I went back the the LCs and asked why they hadn’t told me it could be his tongue tie and they said, “We don’t want to be putting ideas into moms heads”. I never went back.
    I know that tongue tie is over diagnosed, but for those of us with legitimate issues, it can be a major problem, and revision can be life-changing.

    • It sounds like the surgery was completely appropriate for your baby, and that the tongue tie was diagnosed by actual medical professionals. I’m sorry that you weren’t offered it sooner. I hope your son’s doing well.

      • Melly

        He’s a happy, healthy, slightly-YouTube-addicted seven year old.
        He went from gaunt to chubby in a few weeks after the procedure and there was no more milk spillage during nursing.
        He just couldn’t coordinate the whole suck-swallow-breathe thing before the tongue tie was cut.

        • That’s great! I’m glad he’s doing well.

          I think the issue here is sort of similar to that of those with celiac vs. those who think that gluten is bad because it causes “leaky gut” or something; for those with celiac, removing from the gluten is absolutely necessary and life-changing, but many who don’t have it imagine they’re doing something healthy when they’re really just following a trend.

          Likewise, your son clearly had a tongue-tie issue that affected his feeding, was (eventually; I’m sorry it took so long) appropriately treated, and is now doing great. I wonder if some of the reluctance to schedule the procedure was because of the overdiagnosis of tongue-tie in babies who really don’t have an issue?

    • AnnaPDE

      This. I live in Tongue Tie quackery central, and my paediatrician pretended that the massive tongue tie that my son had didn’t exist. The nurses and LCs were instructed to ignore it too. So everything went ahead with the „don’t worry everything is fine, just feed feed feed“ train for 3 weeks resulting in kid, who couldn’t transfer, not gaining and going lethargic. Hooray. After all was fixed (thanks to the on-duty old doc and the paediatric surgeon who came in from holiday to do it for free), the paediatrician was a bit apologetic – after all, there are so many unnecessary cuts, and lasering hurts too. So she just wanted to spare my son this whole issue. Sure, nice intentions, but pretending a tongue works when it can’t even reach the gums isn’t exactly a solution either.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Despite a lack of medical literature linking the surgery to improved breastfeeding,

    That should be a full stop right there.

  • Someone I know got her baby’s tongue, lip, and cheek clipped even though the ENT didn’t think it needed to be done; but according to a holistic pediatric dentist (who performed the clipping), it was necessary because the ties were affecting the child’s posture. I kid you not. The poor thing had a rough few weeks of recovery (she was close to a year old), for what appears to me to be a totally unnecessary surgery.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Yeah, that’s a chiropractor level of nonsense there.

    • KQ Not Signed In

      How tight would a tongue tie have to be to affect posture? Was it tied to the kid’s feet????

    • mabelcruet

      I’ve heard that nonsensical guff about posture on here before-a mother commented that she had been told her baby wouldn’t be able to walk properly because his fascia was too tight. There is absolutely no evidence linking tongue tie with motor functionality, but the mum had been told that the tie was made of fascia, and snipping it eases the tension. Firstly, the tissue of a tongue tie is not fascia. Secondly, human fascia is not a continuous structure. Fascia is connective tissue which encloses individual muscles, and covered some organs like the kidney. These fascial planes do not interconnect, they are not continuous with each other. There is no feasible anatomical or physiological pathway or explanation that would result in improved posture and walking if you release a tie. It’s an absolute falsehood, and its appallingly unethical to frighten and bully parents into agreeing to cut it by spreading lies about it and not giving them truthful and factual information.

    • Mel

      OMG! I’ve had a breakthrough!!! My son’s long-standing gross motor delay isn’t due hypotonic CP; it’s due to overly slack mouth fascia!!!!

      Quick! I need to find someone who can tighten his tongue, lip and cheek fascia! It’s like the mouth is the tension control of the entire body!

      * so much sarcasm was used in the production of this comment. No Spawns were harmed – and he’d fight to the death if I tried to take his walker away anyways. *

      • Well, if you gave him some homeopathic tinctures, I bet that CP would clear right up–oh, wait, you’ve vaccinated him, haven’t you? Never mind. He’s ruined.

        • Mel

          I gave birth to him by a CS while I had an epidural. He was screwed since day one. 😛

    • rational thinker

      “holistic pediatric dentist”-Wow….thats scary. Do they even use Novocain during dental procedures like cavity fillings? I was not aware the holistic thing had spread to dentists now.

      • I sure hope they used appropriate pain control measures. Never having visited a holistic anything or other, I wouldn’t know what they do!

        • rational thinker

          Im gonna look into it ill let you know what I find out.

        • rational thinker

          I found this holistic dentist https://www.thebrandwellnesscenter.com/
          read the part about ozone dentistry the whole site is full of malpractice waiting to happen and apparently root canals are really bad and you should have oxygen and ozone treatment instead.

          If I only had two dental choices available to me one being a holistic dentist and the other being a street dentist in India there is no question which one I will choose….. I am buying a plane ticket to India.

          • Yikes. Even before I got to the 26-point quack manifesto, I was amused by them touting “Enlightened Dentistry™,” complete with trademark.

          • rational thinker

            The whole site was comical. I almost woke my daughter up from laughing too loudly.
            In my experience anyone who claims to be “enlightened” is usually dumb as fuck.

          • Kaia Rose

            I need to find my eyes. They seem to have rolled so hard, they rolled away.

      • Who?

        Holistic dentists have been a thing in Australia for 20 years. I got caught up when one bought my friend’s dad’s dental practice.

        My daughter in particular was the real victim-he recommended against fluoride and refused to do fissure seals on her naturally deeply furrowed teeth. I eventually dumped him when he wanted me to limit gluten and dairy to my busy skinny kids because intolerances. I told him this was beyond his scope of practice, which made me wonder what else he was peddling inappropriately.

        I had a couple of mercury fillings, all of which he replaced. Probably unnecessarily, as it turned out.

        Anyway, took a couple of years to sort out my daughter’s teeth, including multiple small cavities he had been ignoring, or had overlooked, apparently.

        Interestingly my son, who is two years older, and went to the same dentist and has no fillings.

        • I got three kids who eat the same things and have the same hygiene practices, and only the oldest has cavities. Sigh.

  • JDM

    OT and you might well have seen it already, but Amy Shumer has spoken up about her poor experience breast feeding and how well her kid does on formula, plus the pressure she felt to breastfeed.

    https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Family/amy-schumer-talks-pressure-breastfeed/story?id=67982105&cid=social_twitter_abcn

    • Christine O’Hare

      Nice to see someone putting the positives of formula out there. Now if only they hadn’t included the Similac being high in sugar (of course it is, breastmilk has sugar too) and switching to a non FDA approved formula.

    • rational thinker

      Did you notice that the article was extremely short and the part about similac having too much sugar so she switched to a non FDA approved formula all because another mom told her to. Take that and add it to the video posted in the middle of the article. The video is full of the usual lying crap about skin to skin,bonding, feeding baby only breastmilk for the first 6 months, and stomach size of a marble, colostrum being liquid gold so baby only needs a little bit which is false, and much more. That was clever write an article that makes it seem like it is supporting Amy Shumer , then put a video to be watched when you finish reading that reinforces all the misinformation spread by lactivists.

      • JDM

        That’s the stuff that’s around constantly, especially when you get a celebrity involved. It’s part of what I thought was significant. A woman in Amy Shumer’s position gets all that lactation proponent crap thrown at her, and even more than an average woman having a baby, plus news organizations like this one that pick up and amplify that crap. That she managed to go her own way, with what works for her kid (however imperfectly; she didn’t need to go to exotic formula) in spite of all that is inspiring.