A study has bee done to find out if babies in the US who have tongue-tie and upper lip tether release surgeries actually need them. Picture: Pixabay

Every new mother knows that breastfeeding can have its challenges. From the baby not latching to not producing enough milk, it's enough to break the precious bond that exists between mother and baby.

But now the US has seen an increase in tongue-tie and upper lip tether release surgeries as a way of helping babies to properly latch and suck. The big worry is that there isn't enough data to support the renewed interest in the surgery.

While writing for www.today.com, Dr Shamard Charles, MD, discussed at length if the procedure is really necessary. He mentions how researchers at the Pediatric Airway, Voice, and Swallowing Center at Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston set out to answer this very question after they noticed an influx of parents seeking opinions on whether their babies needed the procedure.

Parents are told to check for “tongue-tie,” or ankyloglossia - the tethering of an infant’s tongue to the floor of their mouth by a small piece of tissue called the frenulum.

According to Charles, it can be corrected with a simple surgical procedure that involves snipping or cutting away the tissue.

“We have seen the number of tongue-tie and upper lip tether release surgeries increase dramatically nationwide without any real strong data to show these are effective for breastfeeding,” lead author Dr Christopher Hartnick, director of the division of pediatric otolaryngology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, said.

So what Hartnick and his team did was conduct a study on 115 babies who were referred for tongue tie or upper-lip tie surgery. What they found is that for 63% of the infants, the procedure was not warranted. 

The findings were published in the Journal JAMA.