Doctors are warning parents against procedure on their baby’s tongues that hurts them and could be dangerous.

Tongue tie, where the thin piece of skin under the baby’s tongue is abnormally short, is a real condition that can affect breastfeeding – but it is very rare.

The treatment for the condition is cutting the skin under the tongue. But in the past five years, the procedure had tripled in NSW.

What is “tongue tie”?

  • The thin piece of skin under a baby’s tongue is abnormally short.
  • Restricts movement of tongue tip
  • Impairs breastfeeding
  • Affects 3-4% of babies
  • Solved by cutting the frenulum with surgical scissors

Image via Stanford Medicine


In most cases the issue fixes itself over time and doctors believe it is a rapid “fad” encouraged by lactation consultants and dentists who profit from it.

But supporters say it had been undiagnosed in many cases, affecting up to 15 per cent of babies.

Paediatrician Dr Chris Ingall from Lismore voiced his concern for the procedure.

“It’s an operation performed on something that heals itself over time,” Dr Ingall said. “Mothers are being told their children will not be able to speak properly and that their jaws won’t grow properly, so there is a fear campaign operating out there and it is being driven by dentists and lactation consultants and osteopaths referring to each other. They’ve turned nothing into something.”

Dr Deborah Bailey said: “I’ve been a paediatric surgeon for 30 years and I would have done maybe half a dozen a year in older children, now babies are being done at about 30 a day.”

While some argue the numbers have increased due to “better detection”, others argue it is “creating an industry”.


The president of the Australasian Society for Tongue & Lip Ties (ASTLiT), Holly Puckering, pointed to bigger problems if it was left untreated.

But Dr Thomas Lyons claimed the increased numbers were because of lactation consultants and midwives.

“I’m shocked that it is now a common practice,” he said.

In 2010-11 there were 739 babies treated for tongue tie in NSW but by 2014-15 this figure had leapt to 2178.

Top photo: Stock Image

Source: Daily Telegraph

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