Objectives: To determine the incidence of ankyloglossia (tongue-tie) in the well-baby population, and to determine whether patients with ankyloglossia experience breastfeeding difficulties.
Design: Prospective controlled study.
Setting: Tertiary care children's hospital.
Patients: A total of 1041 neonates in the well-baby nursery were screened for ankyloglossia. Those positively identified were invited to participate in the study. Mothers of newborns with ankyloglossia and mothers of a matched control group of unaffected newborns were contacted by telephone on a monthly basis for 6 months after their children were discharged from the hospital to determine the presence of breastfeeding difficulties.
Main outcome measures: Incidence of ankyloglossia, percentage of infants successfully breastfed, and incidence of breastfeeding difficulties.
Results: Fifty newborns were identified with ankyloglossia, for an incidence of 4.8% The male-female ratio was 2.6:1.0. Of the 36 mothers of affected infants who were followed up and who intended to breastfeed, 30 (83%) successfully breastfed their infants for at least 2 months, compared with 33 (92%) of the 36 mothers of infants in the matched control group (P = .29). Breastfeeding difficulties were experienced by 9 (25%) of the mothers of infants with ankyloglossia compared with 1 (3%) of the control mothers (P<.01).
Conclusion: Ankyloglossia, which is a relatively common finding in the newborn population, adversely affects breastfeeding in selected infants.