dave-mittlemanRecently, images of Suri Cruise in sparkly high heels hit the tabloids. When asked about the appropriateness of high heels on a 3 1/2 year old, Katie Holmes claimed that she thought the kitten heels were “supportive”, considering they were originally developed for ballroom dancers. With older role models like Miley Cyrus, other little girls are picking up on the high heel trend that was once reserved for an older crowd. While moms seem to be split on the issue, doctors are debating over the long-term health effects of little girls wearing high heels starting at such young ages.

Unlike other trends, high heels pose a serious health risk. According to doctors, heels cause tightening of the heel cord and changes in bone growth. Furthermore, Dr. Matthew Dairman, a Suffolk, VA heel and foot surgeon also worries about children running and tripping over high heels, leading to sprained ankles or broken bones. As any parent knows, it is difficult to keep a little one from running around on the school playground. Nevertheless, Dr. Dairman understands that little girls may be pressing their parents to buy them high heels, but he urges parents to limit wear to only a few times a week.

Christina Vercelletto, senior editor of Parenting magazine does see a problem with putting little girls, as young as Suri Cruise, into high heels. According to Vercelletto, in the past, high heels started at sizes for 8 or 9-year-olds. But now she sees girls as young as 5 or 6-years-old wearing high heels as high as 1-inch tall. Dr. James W. Brodsky, a Dallas orthopedic surgeon and past president of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, agrees with Vercelletto’s sentiments. Specifically, healthy shoes for children are similar to healthy shoes for adults: not too high a heel, plenty of width in the toe box, soft and conforming materials, and supportive. Mental health experts also stress that it is also important to remember that little girls are still children–not mini adults.