Linguinha test: how it is done, price and what it is for
The exam, mandatory by law, identifies conditions such as “tongue-tied” and is essential for the development of the baby
O language test is an exam that evaluates the lingual frenulum, popularly known as “tongue brake“, of the baby. It serves to diagnose changes in the region that can harm breastfeeding and child development, both in speech and in the physical structures of the skull.
“Some children present an anatomical alteration of the lingual frenulum, either in thickness, or in the ‘floor’ or in the ‘sky’ of the mouth, which ends up limiting some movements of the tongue”, explains speech therapist Camilla Guarnieri, master and doctor in Speech Therapy from the Universidade from São Paulo (USP).
“This change can make sucking and feeding difficult in the future and can have an impact on craniofacial growth and physical structures. So, it is a test that is done based on the characteristics and the test of the functions that involve the language”.
O tongue test is done while still in the maternity ward and it’s painless. In general, the professional will handle the tongue bridle to assess its functions. Since 2014, the taking the test is mandatory in all hospitals and maternity hospitals in Brazil, in accordance with Federal Law No. 13,002. The exam is also recognized by the Brazilian Society of Speech Therapy and by the Brazilian Association of Orofacial Motricity.
What is the language test used for?
O tongue test is used to evaluate the frenulum of the tongue and diagnose alterations that may impact the baby’s development. “It is very important to assess not only the anatomical and structural part, but also the functional part. That is, to see how the tongue is moving, to see if the frenulum will limit or hinder tongue movements”, explains Camilla.
Therefore, the exam serves to diagnose, in the first days of life, alterations that can lead to complications throughout the development of the baby until its adult life.
“The limitation of movement of the tongue can cause changes in craniofacial growth and the mandible can become more retracted, for example. But what we see most in clinical practice are questions related to function. Children are having difficulties in speaking for more refined sounds, in which a more precise movement of the tongue is needed”, says the speech therapist.
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It is the case of ankyloglossia, popularly known as “tongue-tied”. This is one of the most common changes that occur in the tongue brake and can impair the child’s speech. “Sometimes the child cannot make vibrations with the tongue because of limited movement of the brake, as in the ‘R’ sound. The same happens with movements where we need the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth, as in the ‘L’ sound”.
Another important change is the movement to suck, essential for breastfeeding. When the frenulum is shorter or presents other structural changes, this movement can be limited, creating difficulty in breastfeeding.
“The child may not be able to suck properly, not eating properly and losing weight. Or else, the mother may have pain and wounds when breastfeeding because of this inappropriate movement”, adds the professional.
How is the language test done?
O tongue test is usually done by a speech therapist, but it can also be performed by dentists, otorhinolaryngologists, pediatricians and nurses. It is an exam based on the observation of the characteristics of the lingual frenulum. The professional can handle the bridle to analyze its functions, its structure and its thickness.
In addition, during the test, the specialist will be able to assess the functions of the tongue brake in situations such as crying and breastfeeding. During this evaluation, the professional will fill out a protocol to score the characteristics of the tongue and frenulum, identifying whether or not there are alterations.
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In cases where alterations are found in the lingual frenulum, parents are advised to start an appropriate treatment, which may include a simple surgery to correct the structure of the frenulum of the tongue. “It is a low-complexity surgery, without much risk, which can even be performed in the clinical environment, and it is not mandatory to be performed in a hospital environment”, says Camilla.
The postoperative period includes follow-up with a specialized speech therapist to ensure that the tongue moves and heals properly.
When to take the language test?
Preferably, according to the protocol, the tongue test must be done while still in the maternity ward, in the first 72 hours of the baby’s life. Early assessment is essential for newborns to be diagnosed and successfully treated. If it is not carried out in the maternity ward, the ideal is that the test be carried out in the first month of life.
Language test price and where to take it
Because it is a simple procedure, based only on clinical observation, the law determines that the language test should not be charged, even on the private network. However, in these cases, there may be a charge for the consultation with the professional who will perform the test, such as the pediatrician or speech therapist.
O tongue test can be done at SUS also. As it is mandatory by law, all health units and maternity hospitals that serve the SUS must offer the examination to all newborns before receiving medical discharge.
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