Pediatricians turn away from circumcision
The United States is the only country that routinely circumcises baby boys for non-religious reasons
CNN, U.S.A., March 1, 1999, 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.
Men's News Daily Online
Commentary on the David Reimer botched circumcision / gender changed case
CanadianCRC editor's Note: Reminder about our policy: Many sides of an issue are expressed in articles on this website. Many articles contain points of view which should be heard but are not the position of the Canadian Children's Rights Council.
Read what the medical profession associations have to say on this issue
The BMA does not believe that parental preference alone constitutes sufficient grounds for performing a surgical procedure on a child unable to express his own view. . . . Parental preference must be weighed in terms of the child's interests. . . . The BMA considers that the evidence concerning health benefit from non-therapeutic circumcision is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for doing it. . . . Some doctors may wish to not perform circumcisions for reasons of conscience. Doctors are under no obligation to comply with a request to circumcise a child. Read More ..
Five-week-old infant died after he was circumcised at Penticton hospital
Vancouver, British Columbia
August 29, 2002
The Kamloops coroner is investigating the case of an infant who died last week from complications following his circumcision at Penticton Regional Hospital.
The five-week-old child was released after the procedure last Tuesday morning, but his parents went back to talk to the doctor later that day with concerns about bleeding. They returned home, but the situation worsened overnight, forcing them to rush the child back to hospital early Wednesday.
The infant was flown by air ambulance to Vancouver, where he died last Thursday in B.C. Children's Hospital.
"It certainly seems to be unusual," coroner Ian McKichan said yesterday. "It's definitely something that warrants an investigation, because it's a totally unexpected sort of death."
Deaths following circumcision are almost unheard of, but like any operation, bleeding and infection are the greatest dangers.
The case raises questions about an increasingly rare operation which stirs controversy in some circles.
"The bottom line is that circumcision is becoming a less-common procedure," said Dr. Morris Van Andel, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. "It's no longer an insured service -- it's considered an option. That makes it all the Read More ..stressing when you hear about something like this."
According to Penticton hospital officials, the operation to remove the foreskin from the child's penis was conducted by a physician with 16 years' practice in British Columbia.