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Randomised controlled trial of early frenotomy in breastfed infants with mild–moderate tongue-tie
  1. Alan Emond1,
  2. Jenny Ingram1,
  3. Debbie Johnson1,
  4. Peter Blair1,
  5. Andrew Whitelaw1,
  6. Marion Copeland2,
  7. Alastair Sutcliffe3
  1. 1University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2Southmead Hospital, Bristol, UK
  3. 3University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Alan Emond, Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Oakfield House, Bristol BS8 2BN, UK; alan.emond{at}


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.

  • Infant Feeding
  • Neonatology
  • Nutrition

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