Response To NYT Article on “Cutting Babies Tongues”

baby tongue ties

An article published by the New York Times titled, “inside the booming business of cutting babies’ tongues” made headlines this week. 👀 The title alone tells you all you need to know about the article.

It is irresponsible to spread medical misinformation and cause fearmongering. This does damage and continues the medical field trend of gaslighting mothers who struggle to ask for help in the first place. It’s also illegal to slander professionals especially when your opinions are false and not rooted in real facts.

Here’s the thing. I was not on the cases shared in the article and cannot comment medically with certainty but highlighting several medically complex cases and writing off a treatment that is helping thousands of mothers and infant’s is irresponsible reporting and the reporters (yes, reporters, not medical professionals) need to right their wrong for the sake of all breast and/or bottle feeding dyads out there.

Now here are some truths:

  1. There are some people who over diagnose tethered oral tissues (TOTs).
  2. There are some people who under diagnose TOTs.
  3. Only a medical provider licensed to perform a frenectomy, frenotomy, or frenuloplasty, can determine when the procedure is necessary. That said, the procedure generally requires pre and post operative assessment and treatment with qualified providers. If feeding is the main concern and a functional evaluation and team approach is taken, the team should always include an SLP or OT for feeding concerns as well as a lactation provider if breastfeeding is a goal of the feeding dyad.
  4. We must take a team approach.
  5. We must assess for FUNCTION and to make a differential diagnosis (see excerpt from a recent article here “Structure And Function: When diagnosing whether or not someone has a tongue and/or lip tie, we are looking not only at the structure (is there a tight frenum under the tongue and/or lip) but also function. HOW is the tongue/lip FUNCTIONING, is the presence of tight tissue impacting feeding, speech, sleep, etc. To put it another way, for a tongue and/or lip tie to be present and warrant a diagnosis, the provider MUST find that there is a negative impact on function. For example, we may see a tight frenum under the tongue AND ALSO see any of the following symptoms (not an exhaustive list): excessive gas, colic, poor latch if breastfeeding, open mouth posture, low & forward tongue position at rest, sleep disorders, behavioral challenges, etc.”
  6. In most cases we shouldn’t rush to release (read more here):
  7. When you interview a variety of experts and professionals in the tethered oral tissue space and choose not to report on the research, cherry pick what you report and eliminate entire interviews to fit your agenda, that is poor reporting and in this case intentionally spreading medical misinformation that can harm thousands of infants and feeding dyads.

Here are some resources that can help:

Here’s to future truthful reporting by discontinuing the intentional spread of medical misinformation. Our babies, feeding dyads and caregivers deserve better.