Respiratory obstruction in infants is not rare. Usually, this is caused by a laryngeal or tracheal disorder. A cyst of the base of the tongue may also cause respiratory obstruction by pressing the epiglottis down over the larynx. This condition is not common but should be recognized as simple treatment may be lifesaving. A review of the literature by Shapiro 1 in 1949 revealed only 12 cases of true cysts of the base of the tongue, and it is significant that eight of these were diagnosed at autopsy. All 12 were in infants. Howell,2 in 1953, found one additional case in a 15-week-old child whom he treated and cured. Wilson,3 discussing thyroglossal duct cysts in children, found only four were intraglossal, as he classified them, out of 105 cases.
Much has been postulated, but little is known as to why these cysts form. Potential causes are the thyroglossal
LOFGREN RH. Respiratory Distress From Congenital Lingual Cysts. Am J Dis Child. 1963;106(6):610-612. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1963.02080050612012