How to Determine if Your Newborn Son Should Be Circumcised or Not
The decision to circumcise or not circumcise, your newborn can be a very difficult one. While all parents want the best for their children, it isn’t always easy to determine which choice will have the most positive impact on your child’s health and well-being.
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the penis’s foreskin, which is typically performed in the first few months of an infant’s life. Research suggests that there are potential health benefits associated with circumcision, but it also shows that the procedure is not without certain risks.
Benefits and Risks
In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) ruled that the potential benefits of circumcision slightly outweigh the associated risks. However, they found that the benefits are not significant enough for them to recommend circumcision for all newborns, stating that parents should feel free to make the decision they feel is best for their own children.
After a careful review of the available research, the AAP determined that circumcision was associated with a reduced risk of contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), genital herpes and syphilis. It also reduces the risk that sexual partners will contract cervical cancer, and reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections prior to age one.
The risk of minor complications from a circumcision is between one and three percent, and these complications may include infection or extra bleeding. The risk of more serious complications that require follow-up surgery is less than one percent.
One guaranteed downside of circumcision is that it hurts. The pain and soreness shouldn’t last more than a few days, and newborns won’t remember the pain, but many parents aren’t comfortable putting their child through that discomfort when it isn’t absolutely medically necessary.
Making Your Choice
In the end, your decision regarding circumcision is a personal one, and there is no right or wrong answer. Religion and culture may play a role (those of the Jewish and Islamic faiths traditionally opt for circumcision) as well as your family or personal history.
Some parents opt for circumcision simply because they want to make sure that their children fit in with their peers. However, the Centers for Disease Control reported in 2010 that the rate of circumcisions in hospitals have dropped to about one-third. So don’t feel pressured one way or the other by the fear that your kid will stand out—these days, there are plenty on both sides of the fence!
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