The AAP Circumcision Decision

If anyone keeps up on such info, the American Academy of Pediatrics released their “official” opinion regarding newborn male circumcision today. Their basic position is that “the benefits outweigh the risks” when it comes to circumcision. I’ve heard that phrasing before, in many other arguments regarding medications that were later removed from the market, from government agencies regarding genetically modified foods and the practices in conventional cattle, chicken and other meat production (and these practices that were deemed safe led to bovine spongiform encephaly-so called “mad cow” disease and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans) and it is theorized that the routine practice of prophylatically dosing chickens and cattle with antibiotics is partially the cause of the  antibiotic resistance we are seeing in many disorders like MRSA. At the time, these practices were all under the auspices of “the benefits outweigh the risks.”

I am not suggesting in any way that newborn male circumcision will lead to similar issues that I’ve detailed above. I’m saying that whenever I hear the phrase “the benefits outweigh the risks” it’s a cue to me to do further research to actually know the so-called benefits and risks. And because I’ve heard it so many times before and seen the outcomes, and later learned that actual research wasn’t fully conducted or the benefits & risks weren’t accurately publicized for people to make informed decisions.

I’m also confused as to how an organization that supports and recommends extended breastfeeding (which for the US is considered semi-radical and forward thinking) and yet supports a backwards (and some would say barbaric) position of genital mutilation.
As you can probably tell from my terminology, I am not a supporter of forced circumcision. When discussing the issue with my husband, we decided (before we even knew the gender of our child) not to circumcise. I actually left the decision to my husband and supported him. The more I looked into circumcision, the less supportive of circumcision I became.

The AAP ‘s stance is such:
” Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.”
Except that UTIs in infants is less than 1% and the prevention of HIV is not statistically significant. Circumcision was used in Africa to prevent the transmission of HIV and it had so little effect on transmission rates that they discontinued the practice. I am not current on the literature regarding penile cancer. In effect, the AAP is recommending genital mutilation (which can result in infections and permanent disfigurement) as a solution to issues that education and proper hygiene could eliminate. Even the AAP admits that the benefits to circumcision are not great enough to warrant that it be mandatory, however in their providing a pro-circumcision policy they are issuing a recommendation that many parents will accept as proper and beneficial practice without doing any research on their own.

The more I learn about circumcision, the more I think “I’m glad we decided against it.”  I’m not saying no one should circumcise their son. I’m not going to try to make that decision for another’s family. But I will say that I know it wasn’t the right choice for mine. I will say to anyone who has to make this decision to research it thoroughly, don’t just take it as inevitable-read the pros & cons and don’t let the AAP make the decision for you.


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