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Open Access Treating Tongue-Tie: Assessing the Relationship Between Frenotomy and Breastfeeding Symptoms

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Objective: Ankyloglossia (or “tongue-tie”) may increase the risk for newborn breastfeeding symptoms. Lingual frenotomy is the standard treatment for ankyloglossia, but its efficacy at improving the quality of infant breastfeeding has received little formal study. We developed an original 10-question survey of mother and newborn breastfeeding symptoms that are typically observed with ankyloglossia. Possible survey scores ranged from 10 (minimal breastfeeding symptoms) to a maximum of 50 (extreme symptoms). We predicted that survey scores should decrease after lingual frenotomy.

Method: The survey was administered to mothers of 20 newborns with ankyloglossia, before lingual frenotomy, and about 2 weeks after. The control group consisted of 15 breastfeeding dyads recruited from a breastfeeding support group who filled out the survey twice at 2-week intervals. A 2 × 2 mixed-methods ANOVA was conducted to test for an interaction between group and time.

Results: Post hoc analysis of simple effects provided evidence that (a) the frenotomy group had higher survey scores than the control group before intervention and (b) the frenotomy-group survey scores decreased after the intervention. No significant score differences were observed between the frenotomy and control groups after the intervention, and the control group scores did not show a statistically significant decrease over time.

Conclusions: The study provides preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of lingual frenotomy for reducing breastfeeding symptoms associated with ankyloglossia. Furthermore, the study suggests that the use of surveys, such as the one in this study, may help with assessment for ankyloglossia.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2014

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