NCT calls on the government to improve UK tongue-tie services

Released on: 18 February 2014

NCT has written to Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter MP calling on him to improve the diagnosis and treatment of tongue-tie in the UK, saving the NHS money and parents and babies stress and anxiety.

NCT has written to Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter MP calling on him to improve the diagnosis and treatment of tongue-tie in the UK, saving the NHS money and parents and babies stress and anxiety.

The parenting charity is concerned that a diagnosis of tongue-tie is often taking weeks or even months and the problem is not being picked up by health professionals. This can lead to babies not being able to feed properly and prevent them from gaining weight in their crucial first weeks.
 
NCT wants to see more professionals trained to recognise and deal with the problem as current NHS treatment is often patchy and sometimes non-existent.
 
NCT is also calling for NICE guidelines, published in 2005, to be updated to ensure that tongue-tie services are commissioned across the UK.

Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive, NCT says:
 
“Tongue-tie can be very stressful for parents and prevent babies from gaining weight. It occurs in babies’ vital first weeks and can leave them desperately hungry, unhappy and frustrated. Parents are often sick with worry as a result.
 
“We want to see earlier treatment and diagnosis which would save a lot of misery for parents and babies and save the NHS money.”

Tongue-tie affects some babies when the frenulum – the piece of skin attaching the tongue to the floor of the mouth - is positioned too close to the tongue tip. This means the tongue can’t extend very far, and may not be able to move up and down or side-to-side as it would otherwise do.

Treatment is usually quick and simple. Specially trained midwives or infant feeding specialists can snip straightforward ties with scissors. Babies often don’t even need an anaesthetic and have been known to sleep through the procedure.
 
Treating the problem early is cheap whereas looking after babies who are underweight and mothers who are in pain is costly.