When people think of common deformities seen in infants, many think about cleft palate. While this remains a fairly common facial deformity that infants can experience, there is actually another type of deformity that is more prevalent, but often overlooked: ear deformities.
Ear Deformity Basics
Any abnormal development can cause complications for a person’s ears. In some cases the problem may be more cosmetic than anything, while in other cases it could cause problems in the ear, nose, and throat of the person and affect normal development. Some of these problems can be attributed to abnormal positioning during development inside the uterus, or a problem that occurs during birth—generally when this is the cause of the deformity it will resolve on its own over time, or with minimal treatment. In other cases they may be congenital and could require more intensive therapies or surgical intervention.
A Prevalent Problem
It is estimated that as many as 45 percent of children are born with some type of congenital ear deformity, but it’s not something that many parents or medical professionals discuss regularly. Fortunately there are several treatment options for a baby born with most types of ear deformities.
Common Ear Deformities
Some of the most common deformities in the ear include:
- Irregularities or compression in the helical rim of the ear, which is the area around the outer edge that should be shaped like a “C”
- Prominent ears that protrude farther than a normal ear
- A more advanced form of prominent ear called Cup Ear that is accompanied by an incomplete ear opening and often characterized by hard cartilage around the scapha and helical rim
- Lidding that is characterized by a folded-over helical rim or a fold in the upper third of the ear
- Stahl’s ear, which is sometimes described as “Spock Ear” or “Elf Ear” because the ear has an extended outward transverse crus that reaches a point rather than curving at the top
With any of these deformities, the first step is proper diagnosis and treatment. The sooner you are able to get these things diagnosed by a professional, the more likely they will be able to offer appropriate solutions. In the past many doctors would wait until a child was older and perform surgical corrections, but today there are non-surgical interventions that can be introduced at a much earlier age (even right after birth) to mold the ear properly into place. Since it’s hard to know which deformities will correct on their own and which will be lifelong problems, it’s important to discuss all the available options with a physician and find out if nonsurgical treatments are the best choice.
One of the premier treatments available is the Ear Well non-invasive system, which can be applied within days of birth and has been shown to have great outcomes for many patients. Talk to a doctor today to find out if that’s the right choice for your baby.