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Ankyloglossia, Feeding behavior, Mother-child relations



  1. Hill, Rebecca R. PhD, DNP, FNP-C
  2. Wong, John PhD
  3. Parikh, Gayatri S. RN, MSN


Background: Tongue-tie is a mild oral anomaly that can cause feeding challenges, especially for breastfeeding mothers and infants. Delayed diagnosis may place mothers at increased risk of stress and impaired mother-infant bonding when feeding does not go as planned. The purpose of this study was to explore the risk for altered maternal wellbeing (e.g., stress and maternal-infant bonding) in mothers of infants with tongue-tie-using-a mixed-methods, cross-sectional study.


Methods: We recruited mothers from two sites to participate in a survey about their experiences with tongue-tie: Facebook(TM) tongue-tie support group and a local pediatric dental office where frenotomy is commonly performed. Inclusion criteria were mothers 18 or older; able to read, write, and understand English. Infants were under the age of 1 year when diagnosed with tongue-tie. The survey contained both selection and open-text entry questions. Maternal-infant bonding was assessed using the Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire and maternal stress was measured using the Parental Stress Scale.


Results: N = 113 mothers participated. Findings suggest that mothers of infants with tongue-tie report increased stress, especially when a diagnosis of tongue-tie is delayed. After correction, maternal wellbeing, the breastfeeding relationship, and maternal report of infant temperament improved.


Clinical Implications: Early assessment, diagnosis, and management of tongue-tie are important. Partner support is helpful in fostering the mother-infant relationship. Future research is needed to understand barriers to appropriate referrals and delay in treatment of tongue-tie.