Circumcision & Health
Circumcision & Your Child
"Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me." - Moroni 8:8
Circumcision has long been a common often times standard practice throughout the world, especially within the United States. In certain time periods on the earth the practice has not only been valuable but necesary, especially with regards to the obedience of doctrinal religious beliefs. But today we understand many new things in both science and religion that may warrant the practice antiquated and unnecesary at best.
9 Facts About Circumcision
- Worldwide prevalence: The U.S. is the only country in the world that routinely circumcises most of its male infants for non-religious reasons. Over 80% of the world's males are intact (*).
- Pain: According to a comprehensive study, newborn responses to pain are "similar to but greater than those observed in adult subjects." Some infants do not cry because they go into traumatic shock from the overwhelming pain of the surgery. No experimental anesthetic has been found to be safe and effective in preventing circumcision pain in infants (*). (See Infant Responses During and Following Circumcision.)
- Behavioral response: Various studies have found that short-term effects of circumcision include changed sleep patterns, activity level, and mother-infant interaction, more irritability, and disruptions in feeding and bonding. Changes in pain response have been demonstrated at six months of age. (*). (See Infant Responses During and Following Circumcision.)
- Circumcision risks: The rate of complications occurring in the hospital and during the first year has been documented as high as 38% and includes hemorrhage, infection, surgical injury, and in rare cases, death (*).
- Cleanliness: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that "there is little evidence to affirm the association between circumcision status and optimal penile hygiene." "The uncircumcised penis is easy to keep clean. . . . Caring for your son's uncircumcised penis requires no special action. . . . Foreskin retraction should never be forced." (*)
- Infections: The incidence of urinary tract infection among intact males is about 1 in 1000, and it is treatable with antibiotics. According to the AAP, studies claiming potential benefits are inconclusive because of several "confounding variables." (*).
(See Explaining Claims of Medical Benefits.)
- Foreskin function and size: The foreskin protects the head of the penis, enhances sexual pleasure, and facilitates intercourse. Men circumcised as adults report a significant loss of sensitivity. Men who have restored their foreskin report much increased sensitivity and sexual pleasure. The foreskin on the average adult male is about 12 sq.in. of highly erogenous tissue (*). (See Functions of the Foreskin.)
- Jewish circumcision: A growing number of American Jews are not circumcising their sons. Circumcision among Jews in Europe, South America, and Israel also is not universal (*). (See Jewish Circumcision Resource Center
- American origin: Routine infant circumcision started in the U.S. in the 1870s when it was promoted as a preventive cure for masturbation (*).
(*). (See Circumcision, Ethics, and Medicine.)
If a pediatricians' group had called routine circumcision unnecessary, would you still have your child circumcised?
Please Read the Article below from CNN News before you make your decision.
Pediatricians turn away from circumcision
The United States is the only country that routinely circumcises baby boys for non-religious reasons
March 1, 1999
Web posted at: 1:33 p.m. EST (1833 GMT)
From Parenting Correspondent Pat Etheridge
ATLANTA (CNN) -- American pediatricians are turning away from the practice of routine circumcision, concluding that doctors have no good medical reason to perform the procedure.
The United States is the only country in the world that routinely removes the foreskins of infant boys. Critics of circumcision got additional ammunition Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics, a leading medical organization.
The academy concluded the benefits "are not compelling enough" for circumcision to be routinely administered. And if doctors do go ahead with the practice, the pediatricians' group recommended the use of pain relief for the child afterward -- the first time it has made that recommendation.
"Circumcision is not essential to a child's well-being at birth, even though it does have some potential medical benefits," said Dr. Carol Lannon, chairwoman of the AAP's Task Force on Circumcision. "These benefits are not compelling enough to warrant the AAP to recommend routine newborn circumcision.
"Instead, we encourage parents to discuss the benefits and risks of circumcision with their pediatrician, and then make an informed decision about what is in the best interest of their child."
Monday's statement, published in the March edition of the journal Pediatrics, was the academy's first in 10 years on the practice. But in recent years, medical societies in Canada, Britain and Australia have come out in opposition to routine circumcision.
Critics have long contended that removing the foreskin from the penis is traumatic, medically unnecessary and may reduce sexual pleasure later in life. As one critic, Dr. George Denniston, put it: "Who are we to question mother nature?"
"Little boys are born this way, and just like little girls, they should not have their sexual parts cut and cut off and harmed in any way," said Denniston, who belongs to a group called "Doctors Opposing Circumcision."
But circumcision still has its supporters in medical circles, such as Dr. Thomas Wiswell. Wiswell said removing the foreskin has a number of health benefits, including "the prevention of urinary tract infections, the prevention of cancer of the penis ... prevention of local infection and inflammation in and around the head of the penis and on the foreskin itself."
Circumcision is a religious tradition among Jews and is practiced among Muslims as well. But in many U.S. families, the choice often comes down to wanting the son to be like the father.
The AAP report concludes that it is legitimate for parents to take cultural and religious traditions into account when making a decision about it.
Heard that babies feel no pain during the process of circumcision?
Please read the article below from CNN news for valuable insight.
Circumcision study halted due to trauma
In this story:
* Study measured heart rate, crying pattern
* Topical woefully inadequate
December 23, 1997
Web posted at: 11:46 p.m. EST (0446 GMT)
ATLANTA (CNN) -- A new study found circumcision so traumatic that doctors ended the study early rather than subject any more babies to the operation without anesthesia.
The researchers discovered that for those circumcised without anesthesia there was not only severe pain, but also an increased risk of choking and difficulty breathing.
The necessity of circumcision is the subject of increasing debate , but the traditional reasons for the operations have always been prevention.
Dr. Arthur Gumer of Northside Hospital in Atlanta says circumcision has been thought to provide "protection against infectious diseases later in life which would include either sexually transmitted diseases or urinary tract infections."
Up to 96 percent of the babies in the United States and Canada receive no anesthesia when they are circumcised, according to a report from the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
One of the reasons anesthesia is not used, the study found, is the belief that infants feel little or no pain from the procedure. It has also been argued that injecting anesthesia can be as painful as circumcision itself, and that infants don't remember the procedure, anyway.
But there are those who find that reasoning difficult to believe, and Gumer is one of them.
"To say that the baby doesn't remember it is not an adequate excuse to me," he said. "Babies experience other painful procedures and we worry about that, and we do give them anesthetics for those procedures."
But the Edmonton researchers, whose study was published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, studied the heart rates and crying patterns of babies during different stages of circumcision. Some babies were given an anesthetic and others were not.
Rabbi Ariel Asa has performed hundreds of circumcisions. When families request it, he says he puts an anesthetic on the skin, in an effort to reduce some of the pain. But he admits it's not very effective.
"Due to the fact that moyels (the people who do the procedure) do it very quickly and the pain that the baby experiences is minimal, I don't think that the overall benefits are gained," he says.
But the researchers found that while topical anesthetics may help initially, they are woefully inadequate during foreskin separation and incision.
They concluded that if circumcision must be performed, it should be preceded by an injected anesthetic.
In fact, they found the results so compelling that they took the unusual step of stopping the study before it was scheduled to end rather than subjecting any more babies to circumcision without anesthesia.
Medical Correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore and Reuters contributed to this report.