Should infant boys be circumcised?
New moms and dads are confronted with a dizzying range of responsibilities, challenges and decisions—including, for parents of baby boys, whether to have the child circumcised.
A new study published in April in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows infant circumcision in the United States has declined to 77 percent, from a high of 83 percent in the 1960s. The study authors cited demographic and financial factors as the reasons for the decline.
In their study, researchers expressed concern about the decline, saying that the benefits of infant male circumcision to health exceed the risks by more than 100 to one. Half of uncircumcised males will contract an adverse medical condition caused by their foreskin at some point in their lives, the study concluded. In babies, protection against urinary tract infection, which can lead to kidney damage, is the most immediate benefit from circumcision, according to the authors.
Dr. Brian Morris, the study’s lead author and professor emeritus of medical sciences at the University of Sydney, said in a statement that other serious medical conditions involving the foreskin include penile cancer, which is “extremely rare in circumcised men.”
Dr. Morris and John Krieger, a urologist at the University of Washington, said their review showed that circumcision has no adverse effect on sexual function, sensitivity, or pleasure, which is a concern sometimes cited by skeptics of the procedure.
Dr. Chris Jamerson, a pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., says circumcision is an elective procedure where technically the benefits outweigh the risks, and that parents should discuss the pros and cons with their pediatrician so they can make a fully informed decision.
“Based on the current evidence in the medical literature, circumcision decreases the risks of acquiring HIV, HPV and other sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis and genital herpes,” Dr. Jamerson says. “There is good evidence that it may decrease the risk of urinary tract infections in boys three- to ten-fold.
“Parents should be given all of the facts about the procedure in a non-biased way by healthcare providers and be allowed to make their own decision in the context of their personal/religious/cultural beliefs and experiences,” he adds.
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