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Could the procedure to fix a tongue-tie help your baby breastfeed?

Posted at 11:25 AM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 07:36:46-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — For moms who struggle with breastfeeding, doctors say a simple procedure could help their babies nurse properly. Fixing a tongue-tie is something that can be recommended by a pediatrician, and is done by a doctor in a nursery or sterile setting. It only takes minutes, but doctors say statistics show between 70-80% of babies who have the procedure done are then able to nurse properly.

Kathryn Martin from Akron has two young sons who both had the procedure done. When she started breastfeeding her babies, she initially had a difficult time.

"I was having some trouble breastfeeding with both. It was a painful experience for me," she explained.

Martin says breastfeeding was very painful for her, and doctors told her the pain was likely coming from the baby not being able to latch properly. It's something they see in a lot of newborns.

"The generic term is tongue-tie," explained Dr. Michael Pizzuto, who is the Kaleida Health Chief of Service for Otolaryngology. "Often times babies are born with a little membrane or web underneath their tongue. Often it can impede their ability to nurse adequately."

Pizzuto has been performing the procedure to fix tongue-ties on infants for years, and often does two to three of them each week. He says it's a simple procedure that takes place typically after a mother and infant see a lactation consultant and a pediatrician. Once it's determined the tongue-tie exists, it can be corrected easily.

"It's a pretty straight-forward procedure. It only takes a minute to do. In the office or newborn nursery," he said. "Under sterile conditions we clip the tongue-tie with a pair of scissors and take a little q-tip and tease it back to remove that web."

Once that's done, Dr. Pizzuto says the majority of babies are then able to successfully breastfeed. He mentioned that babies typically cry for a few minutes following the procedure, but that they tend to recover quickly. There is also a possibility that a tongue tie could grow back eventually.

Martin was referred to the doctor by her pediatrician, who recommended the procedure for both her sons.

"I went ahead and took him (Uriah) in to see Dr. Pizzuto, and he explained the procedure to me. It was really quick and simple and it really helped. So I went ahead and did it with Elliot too. His tongue-tie was really severe. Even more severe," she said.

Once the procedure was done with both babies, Martin says breastfeeding Elliot became much easier.

"He was able to latch better, and it was more pain free," she explained.

While the tongue-tie procedure is a relatively common one that's been done for years, parents researching breastfeeding support may come across information on what's called a "lip-tie." During that procedure, a doctor clips the skin under an infant's top lip to help the baby breastfeed. Dr Pizzuto told 7 Eyewitness News there's not much concrete data regarding the success of that procedure right now, but that more research is currently being done.