Dr Jane Collins, Chief Executive and Honorary Consultant Paediatrician, Great Ormond Street Hospital, The Times 2006

"Many ear deformities can be corrected at birth by a splintage device, which is essentially what Ear Buddies provides. The cartilage in the ear is floppy at birth because of the effect of oestrogen, a hormone produced by the mother, on its structure. It slowly hardens into adulthood but this happens most rapidly between birth and one year. During this period, splintage can work really well. In a newborn it can correct a deformed or sticking-out ear within two weeks; in a three-month-old within ten weeks. At birth, the sweat and oil glands of the skin are poorly developed, so the tapes needed for splintage stick well, the baby barely moves and the cartilage is highly re-mouldable.

Without any treatment, a prominent ear can become worse as a baby begins to turn his head and catch it on his shoulder. The older the child, the more difficult the splintage. Splints are comfortable and children usually tolerate them surprisingly well. Failing this, surgery is best left until after 5 to allow the cartilage to harden enough to hold the stitches. If you are interested in trying splints, ask your GP for a referral to your nearest paediatric plastic surgeon. Ear Buddies are available on the NHS in some plastic surgery units."