Changes in the incidence and surgical treatment of ankyloglossia in Canada

Paediatr Child Health. 2017 Oct;22(7):382-386. doi: 10.1093/pch/pxx112. Epub 2017 Sep 25.


Background: Recent reports show increases in rates of ankyloglossia and frenotomy in British Columbia. We carried out a study to determine temporal trends and regional variations in ankyloglossia and frenotomy in Canada.

Methods: The study included all hospital-based live births in Canada (excluding Quebec) between April 2002 and March 2015, with information obtained from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Information on ankyloglossia and frenotomy was obtained from records of hospital admission for childbirth. Temporal trends and provincial/territorial variations were quantified using rate ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: Ankyloglossia rates increased from 6.86 in 2002 to 22.6 per 1000 live births in 2014 (P for trend < 0.001), while frenotomy rates increased from 3.76 in 2002 to 14.7 per 1000 live births in 2014 (P for trend < 0.001). Frenotomy rates among infants with ankyloglossia increased from 54.7% in 2002 to 63.9% in 2014 (RR: 1.18, 95% CI: 1.13-1.24). Compared with British Columbia, rates of ankyloglossia were over three-fold higher in Saskatchewan (RR: 3.40, 95% CI: 3.16-3.67), Alberta (RR: 3.50, 95% CI: 3.29-3.72) and the Yukon (RR: 3.62, 95% CI: 2.67-4.92), while rates of frenotomy were three- to four-fold higher in the Yukon (RR: 3.41, 95% CI: 2.28-5.10), Alberta (RR: 4.01, 95% CI: 3.71-4.33) and Saskatchewan (RR: 4.12, 95% CI: 3.76-4.52).

Conclusion: A desire to increase rates of breast feeding initiation and absence of standardized criteria for the diagnosis of ankyloglossia have resulted in runaway rates of frenotomy for newborn infants in some parts of Canada.

Keywords: Ankyloglossia; Canada; Epidemiology; Frenotomy.