Newborn tongue-tie: follow the money!


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.


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:


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.