Mother’s bid to raise awareness of ‘tongue tie’ condition that affects babies

14:05 19 March 2014

Emma Brown, with her husband Gary and their three children Callum, 5, Anya, 3 and Lucas 5 months, all of who were born with tongue tie

Emma Brown, with her husband Gary and their three children Callum, 5, Anya, 3 and Lucas 5 months, all of who were born with tongue tie


A woman whose babies were unable to breastfeed properly due to a minor deformity of the tongue have spoken about the issue in a bid to raise awareness.

The condition, known as tongue tie, occurs in three per cent of babies and happens when the flap of skin that joins the tongue and the base of the mouth is too short, affecting their ability to latch on to their mother’s breast.

Since January, 2012, 45 babies have been treated for the condition at Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

All three of Emma Brown’s children were born with the condition.

Mrs Brown, who lives in Litlington, said: “At the first birth we didn’t know anything about it. My son was born at 35 weeks at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn GC and wasn’t looked at properly.

“I couldn’t work out why he wasn’t latching on. It took about eight weeks with tongue tie before he was treated. It was pretty horrendous.

“No one had ever even told me about tongue tie, I had no idea what it was. It was extremely painful when I had to breastfeed him.

“Awareness has got to be raised about this issue because if a baby goes a month without being treated they will lose weight and it will be very uncomfortable for the mother.”

Christine Bell, head of midwifery at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said: “There is no screening test available for tongue tie during pregnancy. Immediately following a baby’s birth, there is always a preliminary examination by the midwife or doctor, followed up by a further more detailed examination within 72 hours of birth, although the latter is often carried out after the mother and her new baby have returned home.”

A spokesman for the East and North Herts NHS Trust said: “Tongue-tie can be difficult to diagnose initially and we’re sorry that Ms Yam feels we did not detect the problem in Oliver’s case before they left hospital.

“We will review her case notes to see what happened and what lessons, if any, can be learnt. If Ms Yam would like to discuss what happened, then we would welcome being given that opportunity.”

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