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Norwich couple’s bid to raise awareness of lip-tie condition

06:31 13 March 2014

Fiaz and Tracey Bhatti with daughter Olivia. Photo: Bill Smith

Fiaz and Tracey Bhatti with daughter Olivia. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

Tracey Bhatti was looking forward to experiencing the breastfeeding bond with her new baby when little Olivia was born in October 2012.

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However, her hopes turned into “dread and dreariness” after an undiagnosed medical condition meant that feeding time became very difficult.

The 33-year-old and her husband, Fiaz, have pledged to start a campaign to raise awareness of lip-tie after it took more than eight months for their first born to get a diagnosis.

Their 17-month-old is now thriving after a minor operation in December helped cure the condition, which prevented her from feeding properly.

The couple, who live in Reepham Road, Norwich, said they were considering taking legal action after months of frustration following the birth of Olivia.

Lip-tie occurs when the piece of skin under the baby’s upper lip is very short or thick and is pinned too tightly to the upper gum and is thought to affect around 10pc of babies. The condition can restrict movement of the upper lip.

Mrs Bhatti said her daughter had suffered a severe case of lip-tie and was surprised that it had not been picked up by health professionals sooner.

The condition made it very difficult to breastfeed and Olivia dribbled a lot when she was being bottle fed.

“We always thought there was something wrong because she was constantly crying. The midwives said I was breastfeeding perfectly, but it did not feel right. I wanted to breastfeed so much, but I had to stop after five days. It was so painful and was worse than giving birth. It was difficult to bond with her.”

“It was really frustrating. As a new parent, you do not know what is right or wrong, but the seven or eight midwives we saw were only concerned whether she was gaining weight and feeding. I think I slipped into postnatal depression at one point, but I suffered in silence,” she said.

Mrs Bhatti found out that her daughter had lip-tie when she was eight months old when her top front teeth started to come through and her GP confirmed the condition.

The toddler had a ten minute operation under general anesthetic on December 21 to cut the lip-tie.

Mr Bhatti, 38, who is a driving instructor, said they were looking to set up a website with information about lip-tie and raise awareness amongst health professionals. They also want more checks done in hospital before babies are discharged. He added that they had to seek private healthcare following their frustrations with the NHS.

He said: “We are not doctors and this is our first child and we rely on professionals to help us and we felt let down. If one of those health care professionals picked it up and knew what they were looking for, they would have seen it straight away. We wanted to give her the best start in life and we were not able to.”

Mrs Bhatti added that Olivia had recovered from the operation within two days, which had made a big difference.

“We can see her smile for the first time and it is a new lease of life to us and she is much happier,” she said.

An online petition has been set up by the couple. Visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/lip-tie-awareness

Have you got a health story? Email health correspondent Adam Gretton at adam.gretton@archant.co.uk or call 01603 772419.

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