Senator JOSEPH F. VITALE
District 19 (Middlesex)
Requires newborn infant screening for tongue tie.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning screening for tongue tie in newborn infants and supplementing Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. All infants born in this State shall be tested for tongue tie.
b. The Commissioner of Health, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), shall adopt such rules and regulations as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.
2. This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month next following the date of enactment, but the Commissioner of Health may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.
This bill requires that all infants born in this State be screened for tongue tie, also known as “ankyloglossia” or “anchored tongue.”
Tongue tie is a common but often overlooked condition. It is seen at birth and causes a wide range of difficulties that affect the sufferer in different ways. Diagnosis and assessment are essential before taking any remedial action. The consequences of untreated tongue tie are wide ranging and can affect the structure and appearance of the face and teeth, as well as oral function. Breastfeeding, eating, digestion, teeth, speech, kissing, and social skills can be adversely affected. Some consequences, such as breastfeeding difficulties, can be experienced early, but others, such as speaking and kissing, only become apparent in later life.
The impact of a significant tongue tie on the ability of a baby to be breastfed is very often severe. As a consequence, many mothers who plan to breastfeed their babies are compelled to wean them to the bottle much earlier than expected.
There are several options available when a tongue tie has been assessed and found to be restricting movement, that is, when the frenum (the string that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is recognized to be abnormal. This situation requires surgical correction by an appropriate professional, which can be performed as early as seven days after an infant’s birth.
This bill takes effect on the first day of the fourth month after the date of enactment, but authorizes the Commissioner of Health to take prior administrative action as necessary for its implementation.