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Tongue surgeries can be overused in newborns

THURSDAY, July 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) – New research reveals that too many newborns in the US are undergoing unnecessary tongue and lip surgery to improve their ability to breastfeed.

These minor "link release" or frenotomy surgeries involve the use of a chisel, using sterile scissors or a laser, to release the brake. This is the thin strip of tissue that connects the baby's tongue to the bottom of the mouth or the upper lip to the gumline.

It is thought that a too close connection to one or the other place – known as ankyloglossia – can interfere with or even prevent breastfeeding. .

Frenotomy has become fashionable for centuries and its popularity seems to be gaining momentum, said Dr. Christopher Hartnick, lead author of the study.

"We have seen the number of tongue – and – lip releasing release surgeries increase dramatically nationally, with no really solid data to show that they are effective for the first time. breastfeeding, "said Hartnick. He directs pediatric otolaryngology at the Pediatric Airway, Voice and Swallowing Center, part of Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston.

In fact, the number of surgeries of this type has increased tenfold in the United States between 1997 (1,279 surgeries) and 2012 (12,406 surgeries), Hartnick's group noted in a recent press release. a hospital.

In some cases, movement restrictions caused by attachment to the tongue and the attachment to the lips can lead to difficulties in breastfeeding. In rarer cases, they can affect dental health or speech later in childhood.

But is the "snip" now too used? To help find out, the researchers examined 115 newborns who had already been sent by other doctors to undergo an operation on the tongue.

But instead of going straight to surgery, this time every mother-newborn couple has undergone a thorough evaluation of breast-feeding and speech therapy, conducted by a multidisciplinary team of clinicians.

After evaluation, almost 63% of newborns do not end up having the surgeries. According to the report, for the rest of the babies, 10 (about 9%) underwent surgery on the lip and 32 (28%) on both the lips and the tongue.

"We do not have a crystal ball that can tell us which babies could benefit the most from the release of the tongue or upper lip," Hartnick said in a press release. But new findings suggest that the wider use of a complete clinical assessment may prevent children from being operated if they do not need it.

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