Ankyloglossia, or "tongue-tie," makes it difficult for some infants to latch on to their mothers -- and it can cause problems later in life, too
Breast milk benefits babies, as the research continues to show. The Surgeon General has urged women to breastfeed if at all possible, since it is associated with many positive outcomes for the child.
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But sometimes women can run into problems breastfeeding, and they may give up in frustration if it becomes too difficult or they encounter too many barriers. A common reason that breastfeeding can be difficult is when the newborn has trouble latching on to the breast. This may occur because the baby has ankyloglossia, or more commonly, "tongue-tie" or "tether tongue." Here, the band of tissue connecting the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is too pronounced, and doesn't allow the tongue the full range of motion. This condition makes it difficult for the infant to latch on and perform the motion needed to draw milk from the breast.
"For an infant to properly breastfeed, the baby needs to move his or her tongue to their lips to allow sucking to occur," professor Dale Tylor said in a Vanderbilt news release. "If there's a tethering, the baby has a hard time latching on and uses his or her gums or lips. It becomes painful for the mom, and can even cause bleeding."