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Ultrasound Med Biol. 2010 Nov;36(11):1797-807. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2010.08.005.

Validation of nipple diameter and tongue movement measurements with B-mode ultrasound during breastfeeding.

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School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia.


Infant feeding problems are extremely common during breastfeeding establishment. To objectively assess infant sucking, consistent methods to analyze ultrasound images of the infant's oral cavity are required. We developed and assessed the reliability of an extensive ultrasound measurement protocol by measuring nipple diameter and placement. Midline submental ultrasound scans of 30 term breastfed infants were analyzed by two raters. Nipple diameter, nipple hard-soft palate junction distance and tongue hard-soft palate junction distance were measured on two frames: tongue-up and tongue-down. No evidence of measurement bias was found between raters and inter-rater agreement and consistency scores were high. The changes in nipple diameter and placement were consistent with previous descriptions; however, the diameter of the nipple was not consistent in either position. This method provides objective measurements representative of tongue movement, and further investigation is required to ensure usefulness when examining sucking difficulties.

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