Prevalence of neonatal ankyloglossia in a tertiary care hospital in Spain: a transversal cross-sectional study

Eur J Pediatr. 2021 Mar;180(3):751-757. doi: 10.1007/s00431-020-03781-7. Epub 2020 Aug 15.


Ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie, is a congenital anomaly in which a short lingual frenulum or a highly attached genioglossus muscle restricts tongue movement. The reported prevalence of neonatal ankyloglossia varies between less than 1 and 12.1% depending upon the study population and criteria used to define and grade ankyloglossia. Our hypothesis was that ankyloglossia had a higher prevalence among our newborn population than previously reported. We conducted an observational, transversal cross-sectional study which included all neonates born in our center between January 1 and December 31, 2018, and actively assessed for tongue-tie. We considered "clinically significant" or "symptomatic" ankyloglossia using the Hazelbaker tool for appearance and function when the mother experienced nipple pain or bruises, or when the neonate had difficulty latching onto the breast. A total of 1392 neonates were born at our center in 2018. Tongue-tie was identified in 645 infants (46.3%), of which 453 were symptomatic (70.2%). Thus, clinically significant ankyloglossia was present in 32.5% of the neonates born in 2018. Their distribution according to Coryllos's types were as follows: 45 type 1 (7.0%), 230 type 2 (35.6%), 321 type 3 (49.8%), and 42 type 4 (6.5%).Conclusion: The prevalence of symptomatic ankyloglossia in our population is higher (32.5%) than studies have reported to date. Actively assessing for tongue-tie increases its diagnosis. What is Known: • There are four types of tongue-tie according to Coryllos (1, 2, 3, and 4), of which the two anterior types (1 and 2) are the most apparent and easy to diagnose. • The reported prevalence of ankyloglossia generally varies from < 1 to 12.1%, although some recent studies report a higher prevalence. What is New: • We found a prevalence of neonatal ankyloglossia of 46.3%, of which 70.2% was symptomatic (clinically significant ankyloglossia was present in 32.5% of the neonates born in 2018 at our hospital). • Actively assessing for ankyloglossia and posterior tongue-ties, which are likely more often undiagnosed, increases its diagnosis.

Keywords: Ankyloglossia; Breastfeeding problems; Neonate; Prevalence; Tongue-tie.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Ankyloglossia*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Prevalence
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Tertiary Care Centers