Deformities of the human ear most often begin from birth. While some ear deformities can correct with time, others can be more serious, resulting in hearing loss. If you observe an ear deformity in one or both ears of your child, seeking treatment as quickly as possible can ensure your child receives the treatment he needs.
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Ear deformities can range from absence of ear cartilage to ears that display too prominently, according to Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery for Infants and Children. Prominent ears occur when the ears project out from the skull at a greater distance than normal. A constricted ear occurs when a portion of the cartilage is missing from the skin, causing the ear to take on a lid-like appearance. Microtia is one of the most severe hearing deformities because a large portion of the ear may be missing. Hearing loss also can occur as a result of this condition. When the outer portion of the ear is completely missing, the condition is called anotia.
The ear reaches its adult size by the time a child turns 6 years old, according to the Pediatric Plastic Surgery & Craniofacial Associates, a Georgia-based plastic surgery practice. When a child experiences ear deformities, a physician may recommend waiting until the ear matures to perform surgery, if necessary.
An estimated 20 to 30 percent of all newborns experience some type of ear deformity, according to The Expectant Mother’s Guide. The most common congenital ear deformities are prominent ears, while the second-most common conditions are ears that are pointed at the tips. Because ears consist of malleable cartilage, some ear deformities develop place when your baby passes through the birth canal. These deformities may correct themselves over time, while others may get worse.
If your child has an ear deformity, notify your physician as quickly as possible, according to the World Craniofacial Foundation. Your physician may recommend imaging scans to view the extent of deformity or malfunction to the inner ear. Your physician may recommend frequent follow-up appointments to review the progression of the deformity.
Treatments vary based on the severity of the deformity, according to the Expectant Mother’s Guide. Corrective tape to remodel the ears may be necessary for mild deformities. Specialized ear muffs known as “conformers” also may serve as a comfortable way to treat ear deformities. If your child experiences a more significant ear deformity, both ear and facial plastic surgery may be required. Cartilage may be extracted from the rib to be utilized to reconstruct the ear, according to the World Craniofacial Foundation.