Tongue-tie and breastfeeding: Identifying problems in the diagnostic and treatment journey

Rachel Wakelin, Amanda Howe, Robert Fleetcroft, Andrea Stockl

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Tongue-tie is a common condition that often adversely affects breastfeeding. There is research that suggests that frenulotomy can improve breastfeeding but there is also evidence of lack of professional knowledge on tongue-tie.

Methods: This was a qualitative interview study with GPs, midwives, health visitors and nine mothers to explore facilitators and barriers to receiving a diagnosis of and treatment for tongue-tie.

Findings: Mothers told a common story of having to push for support, experiencing diagnostic and treatment delays and suffering ongoing distress, which threatened their ability to establish breastfeeding. Mothers also described feeling vulnerable in the neonatal period, and witnessing a variation in professional knowledge about tongue-tie.

Conclusions: Variable professional knowledge, conflicting advice, and a delayed diagnosis can lead to a difficult patient pathway. Assessment for tongue-tie should be considered when approaching infants with feeding difficulties. Frenulotomy should also be considered and services made available where findings suggest the cause is structural and breastfeeding support has not helped.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-584
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Midwifery
Issue number9
Early online date12 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • Tongue-tie
  • Ankyloglossia
  • Breastfeeding
  • Frenulotomy

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