Ankyloglossia in breastfeeding infants: the effect of frenotomy on maternal nipple pain and latch

Breastfeed Med. 2006 Winter;1(4):216-24. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2006.1.216.


Objective: The aim of this study was to measure the effectiveness of frenotomy in ankyloglossic infants, by quantifying the changes in latch and maternal nipple pain using standardized tools.

Methodology: Infants below 12 weeks of age were recruited from the Goldfarb Breastfeeding Program between August 2004 and February 2005. Infants were selected based on the Frenotomy Decision Rule for Breastfeeding Infants (FDRBI), a new clinical tool for future validation. Latch was assessed using the Latch Tool. Maternal nipple pain was assessed using R. Melzack's Short Form McGill Pain Questionnaire, consisting of the Pain Rating Index (PRI) and Present Pain Intensity (PPI). Frenotomy was performed, followed by repeat latch and pain assessments. Mothers also received breastfeeding counseling throughout and after the procedure. A telephone questionnaire was administered 3 months later.

Results: Twenty-seven (27) mother-infant dyads participated in the study. No complications were seen with frenotomy. All infants had an equal or higher latch score after frenotomy, with an improvement in mean latch score of 2.5 (p < 0.0001, 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.038, 2.925). Maternal pain scores decreased significantly after frenotomy, with mean improvements of -11.4 points (p < 0.0001, 95% CI, -15.544, -7.345) on the PRI subscale and -1.5 points (p < 0.0001, 95% CI, -1.952, -1.011) on the PPI subscale. Seventy-seven point eight percent (77.8%) of subjects were still breastfeeding after 3 months; 92% were pain free after 3 months; and 88% felt the frenotomy had helped them.

Conclusion: Timely frenotomy and breastfeeding counseling is an effective intervention, improving latch and decreasing nipple pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding* / epidemiology
  • Breast Feeding* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Behavior / physiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lingual Frenum / abnormalities*
  • Lingual Frenum / surgery*
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Nipples / pathology
  • Nipples / physiology
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / etiology
  • Sucking Behavior / physiology*
  • Tongue Diseases / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome