Breastfeeding provides a host of remarkable health benefits to babies and mothers alike. It is the best source of infant nutrition, providing essential immune protection, supporting good digestion and assisting in healthy development. Breast feeding provides many maternal health benefits, including reducing the risk of breast cancers and diabetes. It is also a wonderful opportunity for mothers and babies to bond.
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One factor that causes breastfeeding difficulties is an infant tongue tie. Tongue tie (ankyloglossia) occurs in 4-15% of babies and is caused by a genetic mutation.
It is the TBX22gene mutation that is responsible for ankyloglossia. This is the same mutation which also produces a high arched palate and deformed vomer bone. These features set the stage for compromised airway function (leading to sleep dysregulation) as well as impaired oral motor functions of sucking, swallowing and breathing. This mutation is also linked with an amplified gag reflex. These genetic aberrations frequently disrupt proper alignment of teeth and jaw function.
Abnormal tongue and lip ties may overtime contribute to:
- Nutritional problems
- Sleep apnea
- Poor sleep patterns
- Speech difficulties
- Jaw growth and development aberrations
- Dental decay
When an infant’s tongue tie remains untreated, breastfeeding becomes a struggle. This is usually the point where many mothers begin using formula, within 3 months after giving birth. Breast feeding is the natural and normal way to feed an infant, however mothers continuing to breastfeed one year olds and toddlers are very rare in our society today.
Examine your newborn for:
1) a ‘speed bump’ under the tongue – rather than smooth mouth floor
2) a small, medium or large membrane under the tongue.
to check, press under the tongue. If the tongue is free, pressing here will not cause any movement at the tip of the tongue.
According to experts, division of tongue tie should occur when clinically indicated, within 72 hours after birth, in order to ensure the best breast feeding outcome.