Tongue-tied troubles at TTL

The TTL Safe Home welcomed one of our tiniest babies this week. At 5 weeks and just 2.7 kg, Leboneng has a z-score of -4, indicating critically severe acute malnutrition. Ideally, children should have a z-score around the median for their height/weight, but this little guy is 4 standard deviations below the median. Leboneng’s mother had complications following his birth, and was only able to breastfeed for 3 days before being taken to the nearest hospital for medical attention. Little Leboneng was left in the care of his adult sister, who could not afford formula and supplemented Leboneng only with water and sugar. Fortunately, Village Health Workers in his village alerted TTL Outreach staff of the baby’s need for assistance while they were doing assessments at a nearby clinic. Our Outreach staff quickly recognised Leboneng’s critical level of malnutrition, and brought him back to the TTL Safe Home immediately.

The Safe Home Supervisor ’M’e Lehela feeds Leboneng using a medicine syringe. 

Once Leboneng arrived at the Safe Home, we realised that there was another obstacle in the way of his eating and gaining weight. Leboneng has ankyloglossia, which is also known as being ‘tongue-tied’. There is a short band of tissue tethering the bottom of his tongue’s tip to the floor of his mouth. It is a condition which is present at birth, and it restricts the tongue’s range of motion. This can result in difficulty eating, speaking, swallowing, and breast feeding. Sometimes the band of tissue can loosen over time and resolve on its own, and other times needs to be treated with surgery. We are already noticing the difficulty Leboneng has when bottle feeding as the process appears distressing for him. To make sure this little guy is getting the nutrition his vulnerable body needs so desperately, we are feeding him formula through a syringe. With 9 other children in the Safe Home, the Bo’m’e have their hands full. No matter what it takes or how long it takes, the team here will ensure that Leboneng grows stronger and healthier everyday!


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