Comet country mums speak out over tongue tie in babies

Emma Brown, with her husband Gary and their three children Callum, 5, Anya, 3 and Lucas 5 months, al

Emma Brown, with her husband Gary and their three children Callum, 5, Anya, 3 and Lucas 5 months, all of who were born with tongue tie - Credit: Archant

Two women whose babies were unable to breast feed properly due to being ‘tongue tied’ have spoken about the issue in a bid to raise awareness.

The condition, known as tongue tie, occurs in 3% of babies and happens when the flap of skin between the tongue and mouth is too short, affecting their ability to latch onto their mother’s breast.

Kathryn Yam’s son and all three of Emma Brown’s children were born with the condition.

Mrs Yam’s son Oliver was born at Lister Hospital, Stevenage on December 4 and immediately lost weight after birth because the condition meant he was unable to feed.

The 36-year-old said: “Oliver was finding it very difficult to feed so we were kept in hospital for three and a half days while they tried to work out what was wrong.

“I was very worried because he wasn’t gaining any weight. We ended up feeding him by syringe and then with a cup.

“I asked the midwives on three separate occasions whether he was tongue-tied because but they all told me he wasn’t.

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“After we were discharged the problems got worse because Oliver still wouldn’t feed. He lost 9% of his body weight. We ended up paying £150 for a private midwife to perform the procedure because I couldn’t deal with waiting to be referred through the NHS.

“The whole experience made me loose my confidence to breast feed so now I feed Oliver with a bottle. He’s gaining weight and is now healthy but breast feeding was one of the things I was really looking forward too.

“I think that all new born babies should be screened for tongue-tied. They check the ears and heart so why don’t they check the tongue.

“There’s needs to be more awareness raised about the issue because a lot of mother’s have no idea about the problem which is very common.”

Emma Brown, 35, from Lillington, near Baldock, said: “At the first birth we didn’t know anything about it. My son was born at 35 weeks at the Queen Elizabeth 11 and wasn’t looked at properly.

“I couldn’t work out when he couldn’t he wasn’t latching on. It took about eight weeks with tongue-tied before he was treated. It was pretty horrendous.

“No one had ever even told me about tongue-tied, I had no idea what it was. It was extremely painful when I had to breast feed him.

“I think screening needs to be automatic. When babies are born all of them should be checked.

“Awareness has got to be raised about this issue because if a baby goes a month without being treated they will loose weight and it will be very uncomfortable for the mother.”

A spokesman for East and North Herts NHS Trust said: ““Tongue-tie can be difficult to diagnose initially and we’re sorry that Ms Yam feels that we did not detect the problem in Oliver’s case before they left hospital.

“We will of course now review her case notes to see what happened and what lessons, if any, can be learnt. If Ms Yam would like to discuss what happened, then we would welcome being given that opportunity.”

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