Tongue-tie

Department of Health written question – answered on 4th February 2015.

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Photo of Gordon Banks Gordon Banks Shadow Minister (Scotland)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will issue guidance to NHS maternity services to check routinely for tongue-tie routinely in newborn babies.

Photo of Gordon Banks Gordon Banks Shadow Minister (Scotland)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many newborn babies were diagnosed with tongue-tie in (a) 2012, (b) 2013 and (c) 2014.

Photo of Gordon Banks Gordon Banks Shadow Minister (Scotland)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what guidance his Department provides to relevant healthcare professionals on the diagnosis of tongue-tie in infants.

Photo of Gordon Banks Gordon Banks Shadow Minister (Scotland)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the effect of the provision of infant feeding specialists on the early detection and treatment of tongue-tie in infants.

Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Department does not set the content and standard of training for healthcare professionals. The issuing of clinical guidance is the responsibility of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

To assist the NHS, NICE considered the division of tongue tie in depth in July 2004. Current NICE guidelines recommend when considering division of tongue-tie, healthcare professionals should be sure that the parents or carers understand what is involved and consent to the treatment, and the results of the procedure are monitored. In line with NICE guidelines, NHS England expects healthcare professionals to discuss the benefits and risks with the parents or carers of any child.

Ultimately it is for the NHS locally to ensure appropriate services are available for the diagnosis and treatment of tongue-tie. Some babies with tongue-tie can still feed properly and do not need any treatment. If the condition is causing problems with feeding, health professionals should discuss the options with parents and agree the most appropriate form of treatment. For some babies, extra help and support with breastfeeding is all that is needed. If this does not help, the tongue-tie needs to be divided by a registered practitioner.

Health visitors complete a breastfeeding assessment at the new birth visit and if tongue tie is suspected they will refer for assessment through a locally agreed pathway; this is often a paediatrician referral, or some areas have a midwifery led service.

The table below provides counts of finished admission episodes where there was a primary or secondary diagnosis of ankyloglossia ("tongue-tie") for 2011-12 to 2013-14 broken down by patient age.

Common definitions of the word newborn can include babies up until 28 days of age. For clarity the table breaks down our response into the following categories, under 1 day, 1 - 6 days, 7 - 28 days, 1 - 3 months. The table excludes patients older than three months.

It should be noted that this is not a count of people as the same person may have had more than one admission episode within the same time period.

Year

Age group

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

Less than 1 day

7,505

8,762

11,572

1 - 6 days

589

677

728

7 - 28 days

1,595

1,499

1,346

1 - under 3 months

1,218

1,018

1,214

Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Health and Social Care Information Centre

No central assessment of the effect of the provision of infant feeding specialists on the early detection and treatment of tongue-tie in infant has been made. The provision of infant feeding specialists is decided at a local level.

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