Tongue and lip ties can explain a newborn sudden weight loss

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Does your baby have a heart-shaped tongue? It may be a tongue-tie can affect a baby's ability to nurse as well as the way he or she eats, speaks and swallows.

Breastmilk is recognised as a “living food” that changes to meet your baby’s needs. However, there are many reasons why a baby might not thrive, even while breastfeeding, leading to newborn sudden weight loss. 

One mum, Jordan Talley, shares her story so that mothers are aware of their options if they are facing a newborn sudden weight loss. Her daughter, Lucy Eleanor, lost a pound in less than a month while being exclusively breastfed.

Jordan says it was very painful to breastfeed. Lucy was also nursing frequently. Her doctor said that her milk didn’t have enough calories for Lucy and recommended formula milk.

But Jordan believed in the benefits of breastmilk and saw a lactation consultant. Lucy was diagnosed with a lip and tongue tie. This made it difficult for her to get the milk.

“I was relieved that we had an answer. Lucy had to work really hard to get milk out … which explains why she was nursing so frequently,” Talley says in an article.

Once doctors had corrected Lucy’s ties, Lucy immediately started feeding well and was soon back to her “chubby-cheeked” self.  

Newborn sudden weight loss caused by tongue tie

Newborn sudden weight loss

Some cases of tongue-tie have been associated with certain genetic factors. | Image Source: Jordan Talley via LoveWhatMatters.com

Breast-feeding requires a baby to keep his or her tongue over the lower gum while sucking. Without being able to move the tongue or keep it in the right position, the baby might chew instead of suck on the nipple.

This can cause significant nipple pain and interfere with a baby’s ability to get breast milk. Poor breast-feeding can lead to inadequate nutrition and failure to thrive

Tongue and lip ties are conditions present at birth that restricts a baby’s range of motion.  This makes it hard for the baby to breastfeed.

Ties can also affect a way a child eats, speaks and swallows. However, it is important to note that there are tongue-ties that don’t cause any difficulties with breastfeeding.

When to see a doctor

Lip and tongue-ties are fairly common. But can be misdiagnosed. Every case is different which is why it’s important consult a doctor or paediatric dentist if you are facing these challenges and symptoms:

  • Supply of breastmilk seems to be impacted
  • Baby fails to thrive
  • There is difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth or moving the tongue from side to side
  • Trouble sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth
  • A tongue that appears notched or heart shaped when stuck out

Also read: Breastfeeding your newborn 101: One hour, one week, three months

Source: Lovewhatmatters and Mayoclinic

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Written by

Elaine Boey