Tongue-tie and breastfeeding: a review of the literature

Breastfeed Rev. 2011 Mar;19(1):19-26.


In Australia, initial exclusive breastfeeding rates are 80%, reducing to 14% at 6 months. One factor that contributes to early breastfeeding cessation is infant tongue-tie, a congenital abnormality occurring in 2.8-10.7% of infants, in which a thickened, tightened or shortened frenulum is present. Tongue-tie is linked to breastfeeding difficulties, speech and dental problems. It may prevent the baby from taking enough breast tissue into its mouth to form a teat and the mother may experience painful, bleeding nipples and frequent feeding with poor infant weight gain; these problems may contribute to early breastfeeding cessation. This review of research literature analyses the evidence regarding tongue-tie to determine if appropriate intervention can reduce its impact on breastfeeding cessation, concluding that, for most infants, frenotomy offers the best chance of improved and continued breastfeeding. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that the procedure does not lead to complications for the infant or mother.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bottle Feeding
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lingual Frenum / abnormalities*
  • Lingual Frenum / surgery*
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Tongue / pathology*