THE IMPORTANCE OF NOVEMBER 9th
Today Soma Tech Intl would like to dedicate today’s National Microtia Awareness Day by spreading awareness concerning microtia. This congenital abnormality defect in which the external part of a child’s ear is underdeveloped and usually malformed. The defect can affect one (unilateral) or both (bilateral) ears. Therefore, mark the calendar and then think of the number 9 as the shape of an ear.
HISTORY OF MICROTIA AWARENESS DAY
The Ear Community Organization founded Microtia Awareness Day in 2016 and was submitted by the Tumblin family. Melissa Tumblin founded Ear Community in 2010 after stumbling through the hurdles and challenges of finding answers for her daughter when she was born with Microtia. The organization has brought over 6,500 people together from around the world to share experiences and resources.
WHAT IS MICROTIA?
Deriving from the Latin terms for “little ears,” microtia is a birth defect of a baby’s ear. Microtia happens when the external ear is small and not formed properly. Anotia happens when the external ear (the part of the ear that can be seen) is missing completely.
Microtia usually develops during the first trimester of pregnancy, in the early weeks of development. Its cause is mostly unknown but has sometimes been linked to drug or alcohol use during pregnancy, genetic conditions or changes, environmental triggers, and a diet low in carbohydrates and folic acid. Another possible factor that could put a child at risk for microtia is diabetes, if the mother is diabetic prior to pregnancy.
FOUR GRADES OF MICROTIA
Microtia is classified into four different types or grades of severity:
- Grade I: A slightly small ear with a shape much like a normal ear often accompanies a small but narrow ear canal.
- Grade II: A partial or semi-ear with usually an absent ear canal.
- Grade III: Absence of most of the external ear with a small “peanut” shaped remnant ear lobule and an absent ear canal and eardrum (atresia). This is the most common grade of microtia.
- Grade IV: Total absence of the ear or anotia.
HOW MANY BABIES ARE BORN WITH MICROTIA?
According to the Centers for Desease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers estimate that about 1 in every 2,000-10,000 babies is born with anophthalmia/microphthalmia in the United States alone.
Treatment for babies depends on the type or severity of the condition. A healthcare provider or hearing specialist called an audiologist will test the baby’s hearing to determine any hearing loss in the ear(s). All treatment options should be discussed and early action may provide better results. Hearing aids may be used to improve a child’s hearing ability and to help with speech development.
Some children born with microtia may experience partial or full hearing loss in the affected ear, which can affect the quality of life. Children with partial hearing loss may also develop speech impediments as they learn to talk. Interaction may be difficult because of the hearing loss, but there are therapy options that can help. Children born with congenital abnormality can lead full lives, especially with appropriate treatment and any needed lifestyle modifications.
Talk to your medical care team about the best course of action for you or your child.