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After posting a video on Instagram that appeared to show her baby with ears pierced, Khloe Kardashian has sparked an age-old parenting debate: Is it OK to pierce an infant's ears?
Ear piercing in babies remains a conflicting issue between those who think it's harmless, and for some a cultural tradition, and those who believe it to be inflicting pain on infants for vanity's sake.
The Instagram video, which is no longer available, showed Kardashian's daughter True, who was born on April 12, apparently sporting gold stud pierced earrings.
Those who spotted the earrings weren't afraid to share their thoughts, with some defending the practice and others objecting to it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't come out against infant ear piercing.
"Ears may be pierced for cosmetic reasons at any age, and during the middle years of childhood, some youngsters will ask to have their ears pierced," the academy notes on its site. "If the piercing is performed carefully and cared for conscientiously, there is little risk, no matter what the age of the child. However, as a general guideline, postpone the piercing until your child is mature enough to take care of the pierced site herself."
Piercing of infant ears is a cultural tradition for many Latino families, but for whatever reason a piercing is done, the guidelines are similar to those for older children or adults. Watch for infection, and stick to high-quality earring materials and backings.
"I don't have a good reason to say that (parents can't have a baby's ears pierced)," Dr. Bill Bush, pediatrician-in-chief at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told TODAY Parents. "Caring for an infant with pierced ears is no different than caring for another child, except (in a baby's case) it's up to the parent to care for (the child's ears)."
Bush recommends that babies (and older children too) wear earrings with safety backings that click into place and can't be easily pulled out.
"Most infants who have their ears pierced don't play with them," he said, noting that it's preschool age children who are more likely to want to change out their earrings and might possibly put them in their mouths and risk choking.
Bush says his hospital does not perform child ear piercings, though every year they do receive that request. "Every town probably has reputable places that meet all the (health and cleanliness) standards," he said.
While Bush said he couldn't really comment on the pain issue as far as ear piercing, he did share that most people of any age who have their ears pierced face some immediate pain, but don't have lingering issues. Infections, he said, are seldom seem in a standard, center-of-the-ear, single piercing.
"It's when we get into cartilage and other body parts — tongues, belly buttons — that we tend to see infection," he said. "And I don't see that kind of piercing in infants."