Could circumcision in babies increases the risk of SIDS?

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A new study claims circumcision could increase the risk of SIDS in babies. But is this entirely accurate?

Assuming there are no religious reasons, deciding between the pros and cons of circumcision in babies can be a big decision for parents with a baby boy on their way. But now, results of a controversial new study might make parents want to think carefully about circumsising their baby boys. 

This new study argues that non-medical circumcision in babies is strongly related to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in babies. 

The study, published by Eran Elhaik, genetics scholar from the University of Sheffield collected data from 15 countries and 40 US states between 1996-2016.

The research looked at the relationship between SIDS and what researchers believe causes stress in babies – premature birth and neonatal circumcision. It finds that 14.2% of SIDS in male babies relates to circumcision.

Circumcision in babies study rejected in the Netherlands

Circumcision in babies

One of Netherlands leading paediatricians says parents shouldn’t need to worry | Source: Unsplash

Hugo Heymans, Netherlands foremost paediatrician who has worked for the Amsterdam Academic Medical Centre rejects Elhaik’s research. He contests Elhaik’s study, telling parents who circumcise their children there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Heymans claims the study doesn’t take into account additional factors that possibly influence SIDS, like social-economic differences and differing eating habits.

Elhaik has also published several other controversial studies involving Jews prior to this.

Jewish families circumcise boys when they reach eight days old. Muslim circumcision happens later in childhood, before adolescence. SIDS usually happens during a newborn’s first year.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014 recommends circumcision as a way to reduce HIV contraction. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision.

Should I circumcise my baby?

Circumcision in babies

Discuss with your family and doctor the pros and cons of circumcision in babies | Source: Unsplash

Unless you’re a Muslim or Jew (in which case circumcision of males in a must for religious and cultural reasons), you must be wondering if you should circumcise your baby boy  – for medical or hygienic reasons?

Circumcision can reduce the risk of the following:

  • Phimosis. This is a condition where the foreskin in uncircumcised males can’t be pulled back.
  • Foreskin infections. Especially from the build up of smegma, a thick white discharge that accumulates under the foreskin. If not cleaned properly, it could lead to an infection.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections and penile cancer.

On the other hand, some parents prefer not to circumcise their boys because:

  • Surgical risks. While minor, there’s always a chance for complications to happen. It’s best to consult with your doctor about any concerns you might have before making a decision
  • Penis damage. The surgery might not cut enough foreskin in rare circumstances.
  • Pain. Some parents are worried that circumcision can hurt babies. Research has found that babies can feel the pain even with anaesthesia.
  • No protection at the tip. Without the foreskin, clothes fabric might irritate the tip of the penis, while could affect the unitary opening. This might lead to urination problems.

Speak with your doctor if you should or shouldn’t circumcise your baby boy and how the procedure will be done.

Source: The Times of Israel, American Academy of Pediatrics

Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore

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