Rethinking "posterior" tongue-tie

Breastfeed Med. 2013 Dec;8(6):503-6. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2013.0103. Epub 2013 Oct 21.


Currently, many clinicians who help with breastfeeding problems are diagnosing "posterior" tongue-tie in infants and performing or referring for frenotomy. In this "Speaking Out" article, I argue that the diagnosis of "posterior" tongue-tie has successfully raised awareness of the importance of impaired tongue function in breastfeeding difficulty. However, the diagnosis of "posterior" tongue-tie also applies a reductionist, medicalized theoretical frame to the complex problem of impaired tongue function, risking unintended outcomes. Impaired tongue function arises out of multiple interacting and co-evolving factors, including the interplay between social behaviors concerning breastfeeding and mother-infant biology. Consideration of theoretical frames is vital if we are to build an evidence base through efficient use of the scarce resources available for clinical breastfeeding research and minimize unintended outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankyloglossia
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Laser Therapy
  • Lingual Frenum / abnormalities*
  • Lingual Frenum / surgery
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mouth Abnormalities / diagnosis*
  • Mouth Abnormalities / surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • Sucking Behavior*