The prevalence of ankyloglossia in 302 newborns with breastfeeding problems and sucking difficulties in Barcelona: a descriptive study

Eur J Paediatr Dent. 2017 Dec;18(4):319-325. doi: 10.23804/ejpd.2017.18.04.10.


Aim: Oral and maxillofacial development is influenced by the lingual frenulum and also affects breathing, occlusion, sucking, swallowing, speech, among others. Ankyloglossia in the newborn may result in breastfeeding difficulties: maternal nipple pain and/or erosion or mastitis, poor weight gain and excessively long breastfeeds. The main objective of this work is to study the prevalence of ankyloglossia in newborns with breastfeeding difficulties.

Materials and methods: This is a transversal descriptive study of 302 patients, between 0 and 6 months, who attended the hospital as a result of breastfeeding difficulties. All patients with sucking problems and ankyloglossia were included in this study and followed the multidisciplinary treatment protocol made up of the services of Breastfeeding, Speech Therapy and Orofacial Rehabilitation and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

Results: 1,102 newborns were seen at the paediatric service of Hospital de Nens, Barcelona (Spain) during 2 years; 302 had breastfeeding difficulties and of these, 171 were diagnosed with ankyloglossia (60 girls and 111 boys). Coryllos Grade 3 ankyloglossia was the most prevalent (59.6%) type; 85 infants (49.7%) were exclusively breastfed and 26 (50.35%) were mixed fed (formula and breastfeeding). Only 43 patients had a family history of tongue-tie (25.1%).

Conclusion: Ankyloglossia linked to breastfeeding difficulties must be treated by a multidisciplinary team. We have found a high prevalence of the condition since the population studied are newborns with sucking problems. If a frenotomy is necessary, we recommend stimulating suction with myofunctional therapy before and after surgery to avoid scar retraction.

MeSH terms

  • Ankyloglossia / epidemiology*
  • Ankyloglossia / physiopathology*
  • Ankyloglossia / rehabilitation
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lingual Frenum / surgery
  • Male
  • Myofunctional Therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Sucking Behavior*