Many parents of tongue tied infants or toddlers experience air induced reflux, however it remains unclear is there is a connection or if this is merely by chance. In a recent article in the Australian Medical Journal, Lawrence Kotlow DDS stresses the close connection between a tongue tie and air induced reflux.
The connection between tongue ties and issues with breastfeeding is thoroughly documented, however that a tethered tongue may be a factor in induced reflux, is often misdiagnosed or ignored by professionals. Before treating air induced reflux invasively through either feeding tubes, endoscopies or other means, an assessment of the tongue tie should be standard practice. The examination should be performed correctly, with the child’s head in the lap of the examiner, not just looking in the mouth on the lap of the mother.
Often taking time to understand the breastfeeding history of the child, will help to understand if a tongue tie is present. Children with tied tongues often experience difficulties latching to the breast, which results in swallowing air into the stomach of the child. The examiner should be sure to investigate if the child experiences any other symptoms of a tied tongue.
In recent years, physicians have increasingly been prescribing powerful stomach-acid suppressors to otherwise health infants with reflux. Evidence suggest that these drugs do not the reduce symptoms, and safety concerns with the drugs are rising.
In a recent investigation, Kotlow found that out of 1000 parents to tongue-tied children suffering with reflux, an astounding 92 per cent experienced improvements in reflux after the tongue tie revision. As such, Kotlow argues that there is evidence enough to suggest that a tethered tongue can quite often be the underlying reason for reflux. Pediatricians and ENTs should acknowledge the evidence and systematically diagnose reflux with tongue ties in mind.