Additional tongue tie clinic set up for families in east Kent

Published on 12 August 2021

More support is on offer for parents whose babies have tongue tie, thanks to an additional clinic being set up by East Kent Hospitals staff.

The clinic at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford means even more families can receive expert support, as the service already runs at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

Babies who have difficulty feeding can be referred to a specialist feeding service for investigation, and then on to the tongue tie clinic if necessary.

But infant feeding co-ordinator Kate Lynch said not all tongue ties - where the strip of skin connecting the baby's tongue to the bottom of their mouth is shorter than usual - needed treatment.

She said: “Parents often hear the words ‘tongue tie’ and immediately assume it needs to be divided.

“But actually, for about half of babies who have tongue tie, it causes no problems at all. And only about half of those who do have problems need treatment – the rest really benefit from specialist support with feeding.”

About 10 per cent of all babies have tongue tie, and the condition can affect the tongue’s movement, making feeding difficult.

Breastfed babies with tongue tie may find it hard to latch on properly, or struggle to stay attached for a full feed.

Babies with tongue tie can also have difficulty lifting their tongue or moving it from side to side, and it may appear heart-shaped if they poke it out of their mouth.

Specialist feeding support can help parents find positions that make feeding easier, avoiding the need for treatment – a procedure that involves snipping the skin connecting the underside of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth.

The tongue tie clinics are staffed by lactation consultants and support staff, as well as clinicians trained to carry out the procedure if necessary.

Kate said: “Anyone who is concerned their baby may have a tongue tie should speak to their midwife or health visitor to make sure they can access the support that is available.”