Microtia/Atresia: Children born with microtia will have an underdeveloped or absent outer ear. Because of this, they will usually have atresia, which is an absence or underdevelopment of the ear canal and middle ear. It usually only affects one ear, and occurs more often in boys than girls. Because it usually doesn’t affect the inner ear, children with unilateral (one-side) microtia usually have normal hearing in the other ear. Children with bilateral (two-sides) microtia will typically not be able to hear without assistance.
Causes: The exact cause of microtia is unknown. It could be caused by a lack of blood flow to the ear during development. Certain medications during pregnancy and environmental factors are also possible causes.
Possible complications: Microtia is a common characteristic of hemifacial microsomia, Goldenhar syndrome and Treacher-Collins syndrome.
Treatment: Treatment may involve surgery to open the ear canal. Advances in medicine now enable doctors to create an outer ear and give a child a more typical appearance. Some children with bilateral microtia will require a bone conduction hearing aid in order to hear.
Prognosis: Most children born with microtia are able to lead healthy lives.
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