Tongue Tie’ Surgery Sparks Outcry Amid Concerns of Overprescription and Risks to Babies

Unnecessary ‘Tongue-Tie Surgery’

A recent investigation has unveiled a concerning trend in the US medical field, indicating a rush to perform ‘tongue-tie surgeries’ on babies with the intention of easing breastfeeding.

This procedure, involving the use of lasers to remove excess tissue under the tongue or between lips and cheeks, is being administered despite around 60 percent of infants reportedly improving without surgical intervention.

Surge in Procedures and Financial Gains

From 1997 to 2012, the number of ‘tongue-tie surgeries’ surged by a staggering 800 percent, contributing significantly to the financial gains of doctors and breastfeeding consultants.

The procedure, which costs approximately $600 to $900 per operation, has raised concerns of being overprescribed and viewed as a lucrative niche industry.

Ethical Concerns and Unsubstantiated Benefits

Several reports have surfaced, suggesting unethical practices such as aggressive promotion of the surgery by certain healthcare professionals, despite limited medical necessity.

Allegations include cases where surgeries were pushed despite conflicting opinions from pediatricians and consultants, resulting in babies experiencing severe pain, difficulty eating, malnourishment, and dehydration.

Risks and Adverse Outcomes

Numerous distressing accounts have emerged, including instances where babies placed on feeding tubes suffered drastic weight loss and oral aversion following the surgery.

Concerns have been raised about the adverse impact on babies’ ability to breastfeed and consume solid foods, with reports indicating that the surgery may not provide long-term benefits in terms of feeding improvements.

Limited Evidence and Medical Warnings

While studies examining the effects of ‘tongue-tie surgery’ exist, their sample sizes and findings remain limited, leading to skepticism among medical professionals about the procedure’s efficacy.

Doctors have sounded alarms about the rising number of surgeries they deem medically unnecessary, emphasizing potential risks and adverse outcomes, including severe pain leading to oral aversion in infants.

Historical Context and Shifting Trends

The historical perspective highlights a shift from the dominance of baby formula production to the resurgence of breastfeeding as the preferred method of feeding infants.

The current debates and concerns underscore the importance of informed decisions and medical necessity in administering invasive procedures, particularly on infants.

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