An American baby born with an adult-sized tongue can finally breathe, and smile, on its own.

Sixteen-month-old Paisley was born with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, which causes overgrown organs or body parts and affects about 300 American newborns a year.

In her case, the condition made her tongue twice the size of her little mouth.

"Her tongue was constantly sticking out, she was always chewing on her tongue because it took up so much room in her mouth," said her 21-year-old mother Madison.

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"It always looked like she was making silly faces.

Paisley after she was born and doctors feared she would choke to death on her own oversized tongue. Picture / Caters
Paisley after she was born and doctors feared she would choke to death on her own oversized tongue. Picture / Caters

Doctors were worried her tongue was so large, it would suffocate her when she was born - forcing them to hook her up to a ventilator to ensure she was breathing properly.

At six months old, she had 5 centimetres clipped off her tongue, but it didn't seem to make things much better.

It was her second life-saving surgery, which removed a significant portion of her tongue, that enabled her to fully close her mouth.

Paisley in her first few weeks, with mum and dad Madison and Shannon. She could not feed on her own because of her massive tongue. Picture / Caters
Paisley in her first few weeks, with mum and dad Madison and Shannon. She could not feed on her own because of her massive tongue. Picture / Caters
Paisley during the point where her tongue was at its largest. Picture / Caters
Paisley during the point where her tongue was at its largest. Picture / Caters

"Since recovering, she smiled for the very first time," Madison said. "I couldn't believe it and was shocked by how beautiful my little girl looked."

And Paisley's well on her way to saying her first words.

"She couldn't even make the sounds to say words like mama and dada before because of the size of her tongue, so this feels like a massive achievement," she said.

The tot will be monitored every three months, until she turns eight - when the chances of her developing any cancerous tumours triggered by the syndrome drop dramatically, doctors said.