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North West's earrings spark social media debate

By Caitlin Schmidt, Special to CNN
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Wed June 18, 2014
In some cultures, it's no big deal to pierce a baby's ears. Others find doing so to be an unnecessary risk for a child.
In some cultures, it's no big deal to pierce a baby's ears. Others find doing so to be an unnecessary risk for a child.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West may have gotten her ears pierced
  • Some social media users object to a 1-year-old getting pierced ears
  • One doctor recommends waiting until a child is at least 6 months old

(CNN) -- North West, the 1-year-old daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, is already a social media darling due to her mom's active presence on Instagram. Now the child's new look is sparking some controversy online.

Recent photos of North wearing what appear to be diamond stud earrings have appeared online, sending the social media universe into overdrive.

The photos have revived debate about whether it's safe or even appropriate to pierce babies' ears.

In some cultures, it's expected and no big deal to pierce and adorn a baby's ears, but others find piercings to be an unnecessary source of pain and risk for a tot.

Piercing Pagoda, a jewelry kiosk found in malls across America, has been piercing ears since 1969, and its website boasts of 20 million piercings. Some parents opt to have their babies' ears pierced at birth, but Piercing Pagoda offers services to children 2 months and older, provided they are with "an identified parent or legal guardian," according to its site.

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, executive director of digital health at Seattle Children's Hospital, recommends that parents wait until at least 6 months old, although even older is ideal.

"Ear piercing is always unnecessary, so if you're wanting to reduce all risks wait as long as you can into childhood," she said in an e-mail.

Piercing Pagoda recommends that children have their first vaccination for tetanus before piercing, but Swanson said it's best to wait until at least 6 months old when a baby's immune system is more developed.

By then, "your baby can have three tetanus shots, along with more mature earlobes," she said.

Swanson also recommends finding a pediatric office to do your child's piercing as the staff there is trained in sterile technique and is likely to use a pain reliever or topical anesthetic.

It's unclear where North received her piercing, or if it's even a real piercing, but the procedure would be medically safe for a 1-year-old, according to Swanson.

Do you think a 1-year-old is too young for ear piercing? When did you get yours done? Share your take in the comments section below.

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