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Publications

The circumcision decision

Bookmark and Share The decision to circumcise newborn boys is a very personal one for parents. Recently, it has become a matter of public discussion as people weigh the social, religious and medical reasons for it. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend for or against circumcision, but they do recommend that parents discuss the benefits and risks with their pediatrician and then make an informed decision about what's in the best interest of their child. "While circumcision is a surgical procedure, complications in infants are uncommon," explains pediatric urologist Mark Zaontz, MD. "The most frequent problem is bleeding, which is immediately treated in the nursery." In some instances, too little or too much skin is removed, or skin adheres to the head of the penis, requiring a second procedure to correct it. Dr. Zaontz stresses the importance of managing pain during the procedure. At Virtua, physicians use a topical anesthetic cream, Emla, and also give newborn boys a sugar-dipped pacifier, which research has shown helps diminish pain. After considering the risks, parents also have to take into account the health benefits. Circumcised infants are 20 times less likely to experience a urinary tract infection in the first year of life. Additionally, it's easier to maintain cleanliness. On the flip side, the vast majority of uncircumcised boys do very well, and most do not require circumcision later in life. Read more about circumcision.