Sugarbug? Could a blue vein between a baby’s eyes be a sign of tongue tie?

Sugar bug

Most people who know me know that I’m becoming a bit of a tongue tie geek. Not only did my own son have a posterior tongue tie, but I have now supported numerous mums through their journey of the tongue tie maze, and have been a big factor in some of those babies getting their tongue ties recognised.

***Disclaimer ~ as a doula, it is NOT my role to diagnose. But just as I might recognise signs of mastitis and give information on self-help and refer a mama to her doctor if needed, I cannot help but recognise signs of tongue tie in babies I see with it, and I then signpost mamas accordingly. Sadly, I am often the first person to recognise issues around tongue tie and provide appropriate information. It shouldn’t happen that a doula can become more expert in tongue tie than the health professionals, but it does and so I deal with it ***

Not long ago, I saw a few shares of the article ‘Is your Baby’s Blue Vein a Sugar Bug?’. A “sugar bug” is a visible blue vein on the bridge of a baby’s nose, right between the eyes. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a sugar bug is a sign of a child who may have digestive issues, may be sensitive to sugar and may be “high needs”.

Digestive issues and “high needs” or “sensitivity” are some of the less usual factors that I look for when thinking about whether a baby may be tongue-tied. I’m interested in whether this “sugar bug” could be another sign that could be linked with possible tongue tie.

So, why would  a baby have a sugar bug?

Two hypotheses I’ve heard about this are that it’s a sign of cranial compression and that it’s a midline defect (or ‘midline difference’ as I like to refer to the minor variations. Your baby is not defective if it has this!). Well, both of those are connected with tongue tie.

A tongue tie is when there is a frenulum connecting the tongue to the base of the mouth and this is restricting the function of the tongue. Sometimes a tongue tie can be so restrictive that a baby cannot yawn fully and has their lower jaw held tightly back. When the tie is released, the whole face shape can change, sometimes within a matter of a few hours. So, not surprisingly, a tongue tie can cause muscular/fascial tension in the head, jaw, neck and shoulders (so cranial compression) of an affected baby (or adult!).

I have read articles with Osteopaths discussing how cranial compression may put pressure on the blood vessels, pushing this vein to the surface and making it more visible.

Midline defects make up a huge range of conditions that can affect babies. Ranging from the relatively mild (e.g. tongue tie) to severe (e.g. heart defects or spina bifida), midline defects are when there was a problem in an embryo’s development when the 2 halves of an embryo fuse. They are seen in the midline vertical axis of the body, so they can affect a lot of different things!

I’m no doctor, so all I can say about whether the “sugar bug” could be another midline defect is that it’s on the midline of the body, so I guess so. I couldn’t find any papers on PubMed (the database of published medical journal articles) linking tongue tie (medical name angkyloglossia) with a higher risk of other midline defects, but a brief scan of some of the papers on other midline defects did suggest that having one midline defect may mean someone has a higher risk of others.

So, could a “sugar bug” be linked with tongue tie? I don’t know. and given where we are with tongue tie research and medicine, when many doctors dismiss issues caused by tongue tie, I can’t see this being a priority for research. But I’d love to get some feedback. Does your baby have a sugar bug? Did/do they have tongue-tie? Or if you don’t know, were they actually ever assessed for tongue function by an experienced lactation consultant?

93 thoughts on “Sugarbug? Could a blue vein between a baby’s eyes be a sign of tongue tie?

  1. My daughter has never been diagnosed with a lip tie but im certain she has one. Breastfeeding was awful and so very painful. She also at 3 1/2 has a really hard time making certain sounds (still super young but i feel that her lip has something to do with it) she has been diagnosed with candida by a kinesiologst and is definitely sensitive to foods,sugar,dairy,gluten. She has always from day one has the blue vain in between her eyes. So interesting. Even at her age is it worth looking into getting it cut at all? Or chiropractor?

  2. My baby has a sugar bug, was tongue tied and is high needs! Also, she has FPIES (food protoein intolerance enterocolitis syndrome—I.e. : digestive issue!) in regards to oats. Im fascinated!

  3. I have never heard of the “sugar bug” until reading this, but I have always noticed that my daughter has one! And she also had a severe tongue and lip tie, which thankfully we had corrected when she was 6 weeks old.

  4. My last two boys both have a sugar bug. I am just now learning that my six month old is both lip and tongue tied… he’s not been gaining weight since a little after he was born…
    My other boy also was tongue tied. I noticed his in the hospital and we had it evaluated, it was tied, but not extremely, and he was still able to nurse without too many issues. It’s interesting to me that you noticed the connection.

  5. My son has this line and had a posterior and anterior tongue tie as well as a lip tie. The whole shape of his face changed within the first couple of hours after revision. He still has this vein and I wonder what else I need to look out for.

  6. Hey!
    Just for feedbacks sake – my son (now nearly 5) still has his “sugar bug” vein, and has a very minor lip tie. Doesn’t restrict him in any way though.
    🙂
    Great article!

  7. My daughter has a sugar bug vein. I had troubles with nursing her and my supply. She is lactose sensitive.She has reflux issues, a lip tie and tongue tie even though her doctor agreed she had one, she would not revise because didn’t feel it was severe enough to do so. She also has stork bites at forehead and base of neck. She is now 2 and doing well.

  8. Yes! One of my kiddos was born with a blue vein on the bridge of her nose. She is sensitive to sugar, but otherwise doesn’t seem to have any digestive issues. Although she had a LOT of hiccups — in utero through out my last trimester and every day for the first couple of months after birth (fortunately, they didn’t bother her). She didn’t have any latch or feeding issues back then as a baby, perhaps more spit up than other babies I knew, but she never fussed about it and continued to grow normally. It wasn’t until a year or two ago I “discovered” she is tongue-tied when she stuck out her tongue in a playful gesture as many children do, and I saw the classic heart-shaped indentation at the tip of her tongue. Knowing what tongue-tie is, I was amazed I had never noticed it in my own child until she was school-aged. Since she didn’t have feeding issues as a baby and since she didn’t often stick out her tongue, I suppose there wasn’t any reason for me to notice it. –Or, maybe as she grew, it became more pronounced. Anyhow, you posed an interesting observation/question. I’ll be curious to learn more about ‘sugar bugs’ and what else might be related to them.

  9. My 6 month old daughter has this “sugar bug”, but we have been told twice that she has no tongue tie and doesn’t seem to have any other problems. We breastfeed and she gains weight relatively well. I thought it was just something she was born with.

  10. Two of my children have had the prominent blue vein over the nose. They have a more fair complection than the child who does not have an apparent vein. As far as I know, none of them have tongue ties. We have never had issues and never been assessed.

  11. Wow, thanks for the article. I have never heard of sugarbug but my 10 month old has one. She nurses well, but I’m interested in what I should look for. I’ll send your article to our pediatrician and begin further research. Thank you!

  12. My son has a blue vein between his eyes and had a tongue tie that the pediatrician never noticed but the LC did and got an older more experienced pedi to clip when he was only a month old.

  13. My son is 7.5 months old and has the blue vein. He’s slightly tongue tied according to our lactation consultant. He’s also what I would call a mucousy baby. So far he hasn’t shown any signs of sensitivity to foods. I have not given him sugar. Very interesting article.

  14. My son was born with unilateral cleft lip tounge tie and sugar bug. He is very sensitive to sugar! It is almost like a drug for him and if he has any sweets he will refuse to eat anting else sometimes for 2 days after having anything sweet

  15. My 7 year old was born with a tongue tie & had the snip at day 5. I was told the blue vein would disappear…but it is still there, & if anything has become more prominent

  16. My son had his revision this week for lip and tongue. He’s always had the blue line but not sure yet if it will go away?

    1. My son has the blue vein and also had a tongue tie. He is 4 now and it is so faint that I’m the only one who notices it. After reading his article I brought it up to my husband and he had never even noticed it. Mom’s tend to see everything :).

  17. My little girl had a tongue tie (revised)& potentially a bit of a lip tie and she also has a sugar bug.

    I’m interested in the midline defect / difference theory as she also has sagittal Crainiosynostosis (the suture running down the middle of her head) so this would tie in.

    I shall keep an eye on her development with all this in mind. Thank-you!

  18. I have three kids. All were born with significant posterior ties, lip ties, stork bite on both forehead and nap of neck, and – you guessed it – sugar bugs. All have experienced reflux, two of them very badly. I was completely unable to nurse my oldest, as she literally never learned to latch because her tie wasn’t diagnosed until she was 4 months old. My oldest is also very sensitive to sugar and will not eat anything of substance for DAYS, holding out for something sugary, and not surprisingly has constipation and gut issues. She is almost certainly on the spectrum, and my middle may be as well (in case we’re looking at other things 😉 ). It’s too early to know much with the baby as he’s not yet started solids! All have benefited greatly from chiropractic care (specifically cranio occipital therapy), and with my oldest her face changed SO MUCH within 24 hours of her tie release and then chiropractic appointment.

    All that to say… Sugar bugs, we have them 🙂

  19. My 9 month old has a sugar bug vein and was just diagnosed with tongue tie after issues with solids. My other 2 have also just been diagnosed with tongue tie but neither had issues with solids and they don’t have the sugar bug vein.

  20. Very interesting! My LO has a sugar bug and had a lip tie. After 9 weeks of excruciating breastfeeding, a LC diagnosed it (after her ped wasn’t convinced- ugh!). She is almost a year and no other sensitivities have presented yet however she has been a high-needs baby since day one and terrible sleeper!

  21. My 5-year-old has the sugar bug, was just recently diagnosed with tongue-tie and is highly sensitive to sugar and red 40. Interesting info here. Thank you.

  22. Hello,

    My baby is 6 months old and has the blue vein which is incredibly visible on the bridge of her nose.

    When she was born, we struggled to get her to latch for days. The hospital kept pulling and tugging at my skin and trying to force her on the breast.

    For 3 days, she was inconsolable. Being a first time mom, I didn’t know what to expect- I would think to myself: this can’t be normal?

    I was right, for three days she was starved. I decided to start pumping and to my surprise was very successful. She took the bottle, no problem.

    However, prior to leaving our ‘extended’ stay at the hospital, a laction consultant came and diagnosed her with a severe posterior tongue tie; which had be to surgically corrected.

    After that, she still refused to eat at the breast- so I continued to exclusively pump for her.

    She then became intolerant to my breast milk at 3 months and was in and out of hospital. We then switched her to hypoallergenic prescription formula-which greatly improved her digestive issues, but hadn’t eradicated them completely.

    My baby would also be considered ‘high needs’ as per the Sugarbug articles I’ve read.

    She’s a terrible sleeper, always has been. She gets overstimulated very easily to the point she’s inconsolable. She doesn’t do well in large crowds, but is great in smaller groups. She already has a temper and a good shierk to her.

    This does give me a little concern about behavioural issues that may manifest in the future.

    I continue to do research, but it’s very limited and lacks credibility in some cases.

  23. My daughter had a pretty hefty lip tie, posterior tongue tie and a very prominent blue vein. We also battled thrush for about 3 months and she currently has over 7 food intolerances that I’ve figured out. We are exclusively breastfeeding, so I’m able to tailor my diet to her needs. Makes me wonder if there’s anything truly seriously “different” about her. Doctors all have said she’s normal lol
    Glad I listen to my mommy instincts before I listen to a stranger with a medical degree. 😕

  24. My son had posterior tongue tie which was cut at 9 weeks and he had silent reflux
    Milk intolerance and gluten and wheat intolerance and criminal diorreah since birth he also has a lip tie we are waiting to find out when this will be corrected as affecting his teeth (2.5 now )
    He also has the blue vein accross the bridge of his nose

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