AAP, Let's keep things in perspective.

OK, first, let’s start off by saying that contrary to some of the rumors, the AAP did not just suggest that circumcision should be done on boys. It was more like, “Well, make up your own minds, but we no longer oppose it because we can see some benefit, but anesthetic should be used because it’s painful.”

But… and here’s the real butt, how can anyone say that the benefits outweigh the risks?

An article in the journal Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies points out that on average, over 100 neonatal boys are killed in the US each year because of circumcision.

Do they not realize that that’s about the same number of neonates that die of SIDS?  Yup around 100 babies die from SIDS in the US during their first twenty eight days of life. I’ve been a new mom twice before, and the worry over SIDS was a real concern. The doctor discussed it right off the bat, educated me about it, made sure I understood how crucial it was that I lay my children on their backs at night. “Back to Sleep,” the slogan was repeated over and over.  I received a “Back to Sleep” hand out flyer at every  appointment that first month.
The National Institute of Health makes a big deal out of the “Back to Sleep” campaign. In fact, that campaign boasts reducing the SIDS death rate by about 50 percent.  You could use that as an argument for why neonatal SIDS death is more worrisome than neonatal circumcision death. Because there used to be double the amount, right?

Well, sure, but consider this.  Circumcision isn’t allowed on girls anymore. So, really, only half of our neonates even are even allowed to be circumcised anymore.  Compound that with the fact that all of our neonates in theory are susceptible to SIDS, while only the ones that are circumcised are susceptible to death by circumcision, and I guess one could safely say that risks of a circumcised infant dying from his circumcision are way higher than the risks that he will die from SIDS within 28 days. (Stats from the CDC estimate that somewhere around half of our infant boys are getting their foreskin removed these days.)

If around 100 of all US neonates die of SIDS each year, we kind of need to apply circumcision to all US neonates to really be able to compare risk. Let me show you what I mean.

So, around 100 US neonatal boys die from their circumcisions, right? (And that’s a LOW estimate) But only around half of our neonates get circumcised, because for the other half that don’t have penises, circumcision’s considered a civil rights violation and federally prohibited… So, if they ALL had penises, that number should statistically increase to about 200 neonates killed. But for those neonates that are male, only around half of them get circumcised according to the CDC. So, if our neonates were all boys and were all circumcised, the number would be more like 400 brand new boys left dead per year because of their circumcisions.

400.

Then, very roughly, if all babies were boys and all babies were circumcised, a baby would be approximately four times more likely to die during that first month from his circumcision than he would be from SIDS.

Shouldn’t we be seeing like four times as many “Keep Baby Intact” flyers as we do “Back to Sleep” flyers at our early meet-the-pediatrician visit?

Here’s my question for all the brand new parents out there:  At your child’s pediatricians office, how many “Keep Baby Intact” flyers did YOU see?

18 Comments

  1. Janelle

    ohh, you just hit a nerve I’ve been trying to side step. We just found out we’re getting a 4th boy, the other 3 have been circumcised. My feelings/beliefs about the necessity of circumcision has changed in the last 14 years – I had gotten leery of it by my last boy 2 yrs ago, but now, I just don’t think I want to circ. again. Unfortunately, my husband is not in the same camp with me. Crap, I’m really going to have to pray over this one.

    • Natalie

      Have you and your husband watched a video of a circumcision together? It’s brutal – in betting seeing one would help to change his mind. Drmomma.org is an amazing resource on this topic – and you can order a folder with great info (including a whole article on why Christians are not supposed to circumcise) that includes some resources on DVD – handy if your husband isn’t a reader.

    • Jtodd

      Janelle,
      First of all, congratulations on son #4! That’s wonderful :o)
      From one mom to another, I say go with your instincts and if you have to protect your son from his own father then that’s what you have to do. I’m not saying wage war against your husband, but I encourage you to be firm and unmoving in your decision to keep your new baby boy whole.
      I too, have a son and he was circed as an infant before we knew better and you can bet your life that if we’re ever blessed with another boy, he will remain intact… the way God made him!
      Once you know that something is wrong (even when you thought it was once OK) it’s your responsibility as a parent to STOP. Leaving your newest son whole will be a perfect example to your children of how to learn, grow and change. Your boys don’t have to ‘match’… they may have different colored hair or eyes or different sized feet. They’re penises DON’T have to match :o)
      Explain to your husband the risks involved in infant circumcision and tell him you would like to leave the decision up to your son if he should decide to one day become circed. As an infant, he will have little to no pain management and the procedure is very damaging to the penis. As an adult he would have pain management during and AFTER the procedure and there would likely be less damage to his penis since the prepuce (foreskin) will no longer be adhered to the glans (head). His Body, His Choice.
      I will be praying for you, for strength and for your husband’s mind to become open. Best of luck to you both! ~Janna
      DrMomma.org Savingsons.org Facebook.com/IntactME

  2. Dawn

    Janelle, I also circed my son. I’ve posted about it in this blog a couple times, if you search for it, perhaps you can find more to reflect on. I’ve seriously bared my soul on this subject for that very purpose. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Laura

    Janelle, if you and your husband decide to go ahead with circumcision, consider risk-reduction. Just as there are actions you can take to reduce SIDS, there are actions that reduce risk of circumcision complications (death isn’t the only scary possibility). Use a pediatric surgeon rather than your OB. Wait until you baby is older (don’t recall the suggested age – maybe 10 days…). Good luck!

  4. None actually. But what they did tell me when I inquired as to what to do to satisfy my faith, my midwife said, “Any religion that condones genital mutilation doesn’t need to be satisfied.” Ooookkk. What do you do with that? Is there such a thing as safe circumcision?

  5. Rina Joye Bly

    My first son is circumcised because it was what his father wanted. I felt I didn’t have much say in the matter because I didn’t have a penis, and I wanted to be a supportive wife. The surgerymatter was extremelyit painful for myme newborn son, and he has had common complications. Allowing him to he circumcised is my deepest regret.

    Three years later, we learned we were having another boy. I knew I could never circumcise another son, so I took on the task of educating my husband. We researched for months and had many intense discussions. I would not back down and I was determined to stand up for my son’s right to genital integrity. He is now fifteen months old, healthy and intact. He has benefitted from his foreskin and will continue to benefit for the rest of his life.

    Please protect your son and keep him intact. He has a right to his whole penis. As his mother, you are the only one with intact genitals, you do have a say in this. Your husband does not have the knowledge of a foreskin and he does not understand it’s value. He is biased and doesn’t have the right perspective to make this decision. Girls AND boys both deserve to have their rights to genital autonomy protected.

  6. Emily

    Your husband may have a tough time with this because keeping your son intact may mean he has to come to terms with the ugly truth, that something important was taken from him and his sexuality isn’t all that it could be. Try reading this to give you some perspective: http://www.udonet.com/circumcision/vincent/vulnerability_of_men.html

    Remember, only your signature is needed on that consent form, and your motherly instincts to protect your baby will last much longer than any argument with your husband. Even if he isn’t happy with the decision at first, he will see how easy it is to care for an intact boy, and once he’s had some time to bond (like you already have for 9 months) I bet he’ll come to realize that your little boy is perfect just the way he is. Good luck and stay strong for your little guy!

  7. What a great article. None of my sons were circumcised and, if the new little one is a boy, he’ll be left intact as well. I had to fight pretty hard to get them left alone, as my husband just doesn’t see the problem, but it was well worth it.

  8. Pingback: Wishing They Were Left Intact: Adult Men Discuss Their Circumcisions — Everything Birth's Blog on Midwifery, Attachment Parenting, Cloth Diapers and More

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