“Stop Cutting Babies’ Tongue Frenulum”: Doctors’ Alarm Cry

A surgical procedure is never without danger, much less when performed on a newborn. For some time, however, a practice frowned upon by doctors has tended to become widespread in France and around the world: lingual frenotomy. Healthcare professionals sound the alarm.

What surgical gesture is hidden behind this funny scientific name? For those who don’t know, lingual frenotomy is surgery that involves cutting the frenulum of the baby’s tongue to facilitate breastfeeding. Today, more and more parents are turning to this surgery when they judge that the small piece of flesh connecting their baby’s tongue to the floor of their mouth is “too short” or “too thick.” But this reality only affects 4 to 10% of children.

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Faced with the exponential increase in this practice (+420% in Australia), doctors are sounding the alarm. And rightly so, this operation, far from trivial, is not without danger for newborns, as Professor André Chays, ENT specialist, explains to our colleagues from France Inter

It is normally a fairly simple surgery, but if a complication does occur, it can be very serious and extremely dangerous. First of all, there is the risk of anesthesia which is never insignificant, both local and general; then, close to the frenulum of the tongue, there are the two small submandibular ducts of the salivary glands, Warthon’s ducts; there is also a tangle of arteries and veins; and you have the lingual muscle that defends very poorly against bleeding.”

the National Academy of Medicine therefore recommends using lingual frenotomy only as a last resort, that is, when all other solutions have been tried.

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