Bat ears in children can be avoided if a simple splint is applied at birth, according to David Gault, a plastic surgeon at Mount Vernon Hospital, Middlesex, who says he has successfully used this approach with 30 babies, including his own two chi ldren.

Splinting protruding ears to the head for a few days avoids psychological trauma and the need for surgery later, he says. The cartilage in a newborn's ear is malleable for a short time and the ears can be moulded.