New guidelines on tongue surgery welcomed by specialists

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Doctors welcome the new guidelines on when and whether to cut babies with a tongue tie.

Medical Director of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Dr Bryan Betty.
Photo: RNZ / Karen Brown

Up to one in 10 babies are born with a tongue tie each year, which can lead to breastfeeding difficulties.

The new guidelines want to ensure that anyone providing surgical treatment follows the same advice for treating the condition.

Babies born with the defect have a very tight or short band of tissue tied under their tongue, which restricts the ability to move.

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Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director Dr Bryan Betty said one of the problems with the tongue bond is that it can interfere with latching and breastfeeding early in life of an infant is very important.

But he said in the past, there had been concerns over the overuse of surgical frenotomy to correct the tongue tie.

Dr Betty said the guidelines now made it clear how and when different procedures to correct the tongue tie should be used.

“I think this clarifies the areas where tongue tie surgery should and should not be used. There are very clear indications on the clinical path to making a decision on tongue tie. language, so I think they will be welcome. “

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The president of the pediatric society, Dr Nicola Austin, also supported the guidelines.

She said this still allows DHBs to have their own language tying process, but provides a comprehensive tool to assess it.

“Breastfeeding and breastfeeding aids are an integral part of the first step in assessing any breastfeeding difficulty.”

Having a standardized assessment tool has lowered surgery rates in the past, she said.

“Canterbury had a higher incidence of release and it was reduced through a standardized assessment tool and process, which ensured that feeding was handled by this patient consultant midwife before frentonomy was considered. . “

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Dr Austin hoped the guidelines would reassure parents of babies struggling with the tongue.

“They can be reassured that there has been a good review of the evidence in the literature and that certain aspects of safety in providing care have been identified.

Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said the new guidelines should reduce the need for minor surgery, but not without risk.

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