Randomised controlled trial of early frenotomy in breastfed infants with mild-moderate tongue-tie

Alan M Emond*, Jenny C Ingram, Debbie G F Johnson, Pete S Blair, Andrew G L Whitelaw, Marion E Copeland, Alastair Sutcliffe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)
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Trial design A randomised, parallel group, pragmatic trial. Setting A large UK maternity hospital. Participants Term infants <2 weeks old with a mild or moderate degree of tongue-tie, and their mothers who were having difficulties breastfeeding. Objectives To determine if immediate frenotomy was better than standard breastfeeding support. Interventions Participants were randomised to an early frenotomy intervention group or a ‘standard care’ comparison group. Outcomes Primary outcome was breastfeeding at 5 days, with secondary outcomes of breastfeeding self-efficacy and pain on feeding. Final assessment was at 8 weeks; 20 also had qualitative interviews. Researchers assessing outcomes, but not participants, were blinded to group assignment. Results 107 infants were randomised, 55 to the intervention group and 52 to the comparison group. Five-day outcome measures were available for 53 (96%) of the intervention group and 52 (100%) of the comparison group, and intention-to-treat analysis showed no difference in the primary outcome—Latch, Audible swallowing, nipple Type, Comfort, Hold score. Frenotomy did improve the tongue-tie and increased maternal breastfeeding self-efficacy. At 5 days, there was a 15.5% increase in bottle feeding in the comparison group compared with a 7.5% increase in the intervention group. After the 5-day clinic, 44 of the comparison group had requested a frenotomy; by 8 weeks only 6 (12%) were breastfeeding without a frenotomy. At 8 weeks, there were no differences between groups in the breastfeeding measures or in the infant weight. No adverse events were observed. Conclusions Early frenotomy did not result in an objective improvement in breastfeeding but was associated with improved self-efficacy. The majority in the comparison arm opted for the intervention after 5 days.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Early online date18 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2013


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