Making the cut

What parents should know when making a decision about circumcision.

The benefits
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks of the procedure. “Research shows that the biggest health benefits of circumcision include a lower risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases later in life, such as HIV, genital herpes, human papilloma virus and syphilis. Circumcision also lowers the risk of penile cancer, cervical cancer in sexual partners and urinary tract infections in the first year of life,” notes Kristie Rivers, MD, FAAP, board certified pediatrician at Bundoo, an online parenting resource run by physicians.

surprise-babyThe risks
Although any surgical procedure involves some risk, complications as a result of circumcision are unlikely, but include bleeding, infection or damage to the penis. The procedure is safest and offers the most health benefits when performed during the newborn period, usually at the hospital within baby’s first few days of life.

The verdict
While there are potential medical benefits, the AAP does not suggest they’re substantial enough to recommend routine neonatal circumcision of all boys. In addition to health concerns, it recommends taking into account religious, cultural and ethnic traditions as well as personal beliefs. Advises Rivers, “In the end, it is a parent’s right to decide what is best for their own child after weighing all of the health benefits against their own personal beliefs.”

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