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Tongue Tie, Colic, Reflux & Chiropractic

Posted: February 25, 2019
By: Dr. Drew Rubin, Krista Frank &

Tongue Tie

The prevalence of tongue-tie in newborn infants is 0.3-12%. Tongue tie, also called ankyloglossia, is when the tissue attached to the underside of the tongue and the base of the mouth is very tight, thick, or extends too far forward in the mouth. This is something children are born with and means the tongue cannot move freely. One of the biggest concerns with tongue-tie is trouble breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is an irreplaceable bonding experience for mom and baby and has so many great benefits. Jeanne Ohm, D.C., offers the chiropractic perspective: “Significant research shows that from a nutritional, immunological, digestive, neurological, developmental, mental, psychological and emotional standpoint, there is no replacement.” However, due to the extra tissue present with tongue-tie it makes latching and suckling very hard for the infant; this can lead to malnutrition in baby and reduced milk production in mom.

Chiropractic is very beneficial for babies that suffer from tongue-tie. A strong focus is placed on the cranial bones and the affected facial joints and tissues (i.e. TMJ). With these specific and gentle adjustments the joints are put back into alignment, mobility is restored, pain and muscle tightness are alleviated, and the tissues are allowed to heal. Making sure the infants’ nervous system is clear also helps with their recovery if a frenotomoy (tongue-tie surgery) is necessary. Exercises will also be given for the parents to do at home in order to aid in the mobility process. The La Leche League identifies chiropractic as an effective modality for babies whose muscles and bones are not working well together causing the baby to be in pain, or to be a poor feeder. Addressing these concerns early can also help alleviate other symptoms tongue-tie may present with down the line like speech impairments and dental disease.


Colic and Reflux

Colic is when a baby cries for several hours a day for multiple days per week. Often the baby draws their knees up and is hard to comfort. Approximately 10-20% of babies suffer from this. Healthcare professionals say that colic is the waves of pain associated with distension of the bowel.

Reflux, on the other hand, is the movement of fluid, food and sometimes acid into the esophagus. Certain foods can trigger reflux or colic; the main culprits being food containing dairy, and gassy foods such as onions, broccoli and beans.

If breastfeeding, this relates to the food a mother eats or drinks. It is usually advisable that mothers avoid coffee, chocolate, alcohol and dairy for two to three weeks to see if this makes a difference. If not breastfed, the baby’s formula needs to be looked at. Often using a lactose-free formula can reduce gas or acid build-up. Probiotics for both mothers and infants can also help counteract this. How can chiropractic help with this? According to a study done by Dr. Alcantara and Dr. Anderson, they reported the successful chiropractic care of a 3-month old female with subjective complaints consistent with GERD in addition to fuss-cry-irritability with sleep disorder syndrome and irritable infant syndrome of musculoskeletal origin. This study suggests the possibility that similar patients may benefit from chiropractic care.


Auerbach A. Tongue-tie: a holistic approach for breastfeeding infants. Pathways. Issue 48.

Ferranti, Melissa, Alcantara, Joel, & Adkins, Michelle. “Resolution of Breastfeeding Difficulties and Plagiocephaly in an Infant Undergoing Chiropractic Care.”  Journal of Pediatric, Maternal, & Family Health.  2016.2 (2016): 42-45.

Alcantara, J., & Anderson, R. (2008). Chiropractic care of a pediatric patient with symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease, fuss-cry-irritability with sleep disorder syndrome and irritable infant syndrome of musculoskeletal origin. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association52(4), 248-55.


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