Persistent nipple pain in breastfeeding mothers associated with abnormal infant tongue movement

Holly Mcclellan, Jacqueline Kent, Anna Hepworth, Peter Hartmann, Donna Geddes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Background: Infants of breastfeeding mothers with persistent nipple pain have been shown to apply stronger vacuums to the breast and transfer less milk during one monitored feed. This may be associated with differences in the movement of the tongue. The aim was to analyse the intra-oral nipple shape and movement of the tongue of infants of mothers with and without nipple pain. Methods: Breastfeeding infants of mothers with or without nipple pain were monitored using ultrasound and intra-oral vacuum during one breastfeed. From cine clips of the ultrasound scans measurements were made of the depth of the intra-oral space between the hard-soft palate junction (HSPJ) and the mid-tongue; the distance of the tip of the nipple to the HSPJ; and nipple diameters from the tip to the base. Results: During nutritive sucking, tongue movements of infants of mothers with nipple pain resulted in a smaller intra-oral space (p = 0.040) and restricted nipple expansion compared to controls (p <0.012). Stronger baseline and peak vacuums compared to controls were confirmed (p = 0.002). Conclusion: In these mothers, nipple pain was associated with restricted infant tongue movement. Ultrasound may complement measurement of intra-oral vacuum in monitoring treatment strategies in breastfeeding women experiencing nipple pain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10833-10845
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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