How one minute made a big difference to the life of this Leeds tot

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They expected life to change significantly after the birth of their first child, but not quite in the way it did.

After three months of concern after their baby Lucy was born, new parents Michael and Caroline Rochford have finally found relief following a successful Leeds procedure that took just one minute.

When Lucy was born in June she immediately had problems with feeding. So much so that mum Caroline decided to change from breast-feeding to bottle-feeding in the first few days, however Lucy still suffered problems with colic and wind.

“Caroline found it very painful trying to feed our baby. Lucy couldn’t latch on properly and it was very distressing for both of them,” says Michael.

They took Lucy to see a GP, who diagnosed a small tongue-tie. “We were advised the procedure to correct it would not be available to Lucy under the NHS as she was bottle-feeding successfully. But we were still concerned,” said Michael.

Tongue-tie (or ankyloglossia) is a condition that affects the way the tongue moves in the mouth. For some babies, their frenulum – the cord-like strip of skin joining the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth is shorter than usual making it difficult to breast-feed.

Tongue-tie affects around 4-11 per cent of newborn babies. It’s more common in boys than girls, and sometimes runs in families.

Signs of tongue-tie in newborns include gulping, making clicking noises and breaking suction while feeding because they cannot latch on properly, causing distress for both mother and baby.

In Lucy’s case, the situation worsened to the point where her parents decided they needed to do something about it.

They called Spire Leeds Hospital and were able to see Gerard Kelly, a consultant 
ENT surgeon, within a few 
days.

Mr Kelly said Lucy had a significant tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) and he performed a division of tongue-tie in out-patients. The actual procedure took around one minute.

“The advantage of performing this procedure in babies is that the operation can be carried out in the office (or clinic),” says Mr Kelly.

“It’s done without a general anaesthetic and it is quick. The baby is held by a parent or one of our nurses. The tongue is lifted and the frenulum is cut with sterile scissors and the tissues pushed apart to divide them.

“The best time is when the baby is just born when babies are less bothered by the procedure and breast-feeding issues may be resolved quickly. Older children may need hospital admission and usually a general anaesthetic.”

Tongue-tie occurs where the strip of skin connecting the baby’s tongue to the floor of their mouth is shorter than usual.

Some babies who have tongue-tie don’t seem to be bothered by it.

In others, it can restrict the tongue’s movement, making it harder to breast-feed.

Tongue-tie is sometimes diagnosed during a baby’s routine newborn check, but it’s not always easy to spot.

It may not become apparent until your baby has problems feeding.

Martin Fisher

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