Aussie mum sparks debate after piercing baby's ears

DiGeronimo covered her ears as her daughter screamed.
DiGeronimo covered her ears as her daughter screamed. Photo credit: Channel 7

An Australian reality television star has been criticised after piercing the ears of her 3 month old daughter, sparking debate over how young is too young.

Maria DiGeronimo, the star of Yummy Mummies, has been labelled a "bully" and "cruel" by viewers after an episode featuring the piercing taking place went to air in Australia.

Mrs DiGeronimo was seen covering her ears as her daughter Valentina screamed in pain during the process.

But the act of piercing a baby's ears has history in many cultures that goes back centuries.  The procedue is common practice in Spain and South America.

The correct age to carry out ear piercings is an issue that's popular New Zealand also, with frequent heated discussions taking place of parenting forums.

The general consensus among parents posting on sites like OhBaby and KidSpot is that a child should be old enough to make the decision for themselves before ear piercings take place.  One mother said she wouldn't even consider it until her child was "old enough to ask five times and to be told 'no' four out of those five".

Auckland Pharmacist Sam Pang offers ear piercing services to babies over three months and said the procedure is popular in New Zealand and most of his customers are getting their babies pierced for cultural or religious reasons.

Mr Pang said nearly a third of his customers with young babies have come in to his pharmacy after considering doing the piercing themselves at home.

"It's a tradition. They sometimes do it themselves using a large skewer. That means a higher chance of infection"

A study in 2015 from England's Northwestern University showed 31% of piercings in the United States had complications but just 1% needed hospitalisation as a result.