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Intact America Urges Pediatricians to Say No to Infant Circumcision - The Baby, Not The Parent, Is Your Patient

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 General News J E 4
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ISSUES OPEN LETTER CALLING ON ATTENDEES AT AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS MEETING TO REJECT CALL TO RECOMMEND IN FAVOR OF CIRCUMCISION FOR FIRST TIME

UNNECESSARY, RISKY SURGERY FAILS TESTS OF MEDICAL ETHICS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Leaders of Intact America (www.intactamerica.org) today issued a call to conscience to doctors at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, urging them to say no to neonatal male circumcision.

Medical ethics requires informed consent of the patient before any surgical procedure or invasive treatment is carried out. Parental consent on behalf of a child is generally accepted only if the surgery is necessary to save the life or the health of the child. Because circumcision removes healthy, functional tissue and is not medically necessary, parental consent is inadequate. Intact America placed an ad in today's Washington Post urging pediatricians to say no to circumcision because "the baby, not the parent, is your patient."

Neonatal circumcision is performed on more than 1 million babies each year in the United States. The AAP is awaiting a report by a special task force on circumcision, considering whether for the first time to recommend in favor of the surgery. Evidence being considered by the task force comes from studies carried out in Sub-Saharan Africa, among adult men, which examined the role circumcision might play in mitigating HIV transmission. Researchers claim that circumcision reduced female-to-male transmission of HIV. However, no similar reduction was found for male-to-female or male-to-male transmission. In fact, recent studies were ended prematurely because women were contracting HIV at alarmingly higher rates than those in control groups from men who were failing to take the only universally-recognized anti-HIV measure, use of a condom.

The Centers for Disease Control, which is also citing the African studies in as it revisits its neutral stance on neonatal male circumcision, recently acknowledged there is no evidence of any benefit for male to male transmission, which -- along with shared needles among intravenous drug users -- is still the most common modality of transmission in the United States.

"Pediatricians must embrace their oath to do no harm and recognize that the baby -- not the parent -- is their patient," said Georganne Chapin, who heads Intact America, the clearinghouse for information on the anti-circumcision movement. "There is no justification to recommend unnecessary surgery to remove healthy, functioning tissue from a baby boy on the chance he might engage in unsafe sexual behavior decades into the future."

The United States is the only western nation that still circumcises a majority of its baby boys for non-religious reasons. The circumcision rate in most European countries is less than five percent. Even here, the rate has dropped from around 90 percent thirty years ago to below 60 percent today, in part because of large immigration influxes from Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia, parts of the world where circumcision is rare. But the drop is also due to growing awareness among medical professionals and expectant parents that there is no medical reason to subject newborn boys to risky, unnecessary surgery that removes healthy, functional tissue.

"European countries have far lower rates of circumcision and far lower HIV rates, which underscore the lack of any link between the surgery and the disease," said Chapin. "In this country, there is similarly no link between circumcision and HIV based on geography, ethnic group or any other demographic subgroup."

"Preventing HIV requires use of a condom or other safe sexual practice," Chapin said. "Circumcision does not prevent HIV."

The AAP circumcision review task force is headed by Dr. Susan Blank, an Assistant New York City Health Commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Prevention and Control. Chapin said Dr. Blank, who has made public comments in support of circumcision, must ensure the AAP considers all factors involved in an honest and open assessment, including underreported but very real risks to the baby including bleeding, surgical error, infection and, in several cases reported recently, even deaths.

Currently, no respected medical authority in the world recommends neonatal male circumcision -- not the AAP, CDC or the American Medical Association, which calls the surgery "non-therapeutic." The Royal Australian Academy of Pediatrics recently revisited its stance, and found that any benefits "do not warrant a recommendation of universal circumcision for newborn and infant males."

Circumcision also adds more than $1 billion in annual health care costs to taxpayers and families, and $1 billion in income to doctors.

For more information, please go to Intact America's website at www.intactamerica.org.

SOURCE Intact America
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