Catherine Watson-Genna
General Session #2


Organization of Tongue Movements During Breastfeeding Before and After Frenotomy – Catherine Watson-Genna

Several good quality studies have shown that frenotomy improves breastfeeding problems, but skepticism persists in the medical community, particularly about the effect of more subtle or ‘posterior’ tongue-ties. This presentation reports on an objective biomechanical analysis of ultrasound scans of breastfeeding infants with posterior tongue-tie before and after frenotomy, illuminating alterations in the organization of tongue movements during breastfeeding that normalize after treatment. The clinical implications of the altered tongue movements in sucking and swallowing are reviewed and contrasted with normal sucking and swallowing.

Catherine Watson-Genna is an IBCLC, textbook author [Supporting Sucking Skills in Breastfeeding Infants (Jones and Bartlett, 2013) and Selecting and Using Breastfeeding Tools (Hale, 2009) and acclaimed presenter. Current research studies sucking with ultrasound and suck:swallow rhythms via cervical auscultation. She is Associate Editor of USLCA’s official journal Clinical Lactation.

Learning Outcomes:
– Describe how the anterior and mid-tongue move differently during normal breastfeeding.
– List two differences between tongue movements in tongue tied infants before frenotomy and those of normal infants.
– Detail one consequence for sucking, and one for swallowing, of these differences.


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