Monday, August 27, 2012

Shame on you, AAP.

I'm extremely disappointed today that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come out with its revised position statement on infant circumcision. Circumcision isn't recommended by any medical institution in the world, and today the AAP goes against all that collective wisdom and knowledge.

The revised AAP statement touts the many "benefits" of circumcision, all of which are based on questionable or no research. It then goes on to endorse third party reimbursement for circumcision, but comes just short of recommending that the surgery be performed routinely on babies, saying it should be left up to parents to choose.

The problem with this is that if parents aren't given accurate and comprehensive information when learning about circumcision, they cannot make a truly informed decision.

Among the purported benefits of circumcision listed in the AAP statement are:

What's more, the AAP statement fails to explain the many functions of the foreskin in the intact penis (among others: protecting the sensitive glans and aiding in lubrication). Infant circumcision removes up to 50% of the skin of the penis, along with 20,000+ highly sensitive nerves. Some risks to the surgery include pain, infection, bleeding, death (more babies die from circumcision during their first month than from car accidents or SIDS) and future sexual dysfunction for the man and/or his partner.

But why would an organization whose members have vowed to "First, do no harm" go so far as to ignore relevant research and the recommendations of every other medical organization in the world and instead espouse benefits of an elective cosmetic surgery for infants?

(I'll give you one guess!)

It is not difficult to deduce that the members of the AAP are concerned about the millions of dollars in revenue they'll lose annually as more people realize that routine infant circumcision is unnecessary. After the last circumcision statement from the AAP (which did not recommend the surgery), many insurance companies stopped covering the surgery, and Medicaid stopped reimbursing for circumcisions in eighteen states, both of which contributed to the decline in people choosing to put their babies through the elective procedure.

Come on, AAP. First consider all the research and stop cutting on babies to make a profit!

Or hey, here's an idea: If your members really believe that circumcision is the best way to prevent the health challenges outlined above, prove it.

I can only hold out hope that the international backlash from today's announcement will force the AAP to retract its new statement, as it did two years ago after recommending that US pediatricians be allowed (against federal law) to perform a "routine nick" of the clitoris in baby girls whose families might otherwise choose to send their daughters overseas for more drastic forms of circumcision.

If the poor judgment and questionable ethics clearly present in the AAP aren't enough, consider that this organization also receives funding from Nestlé.

I'm embarrassed of the American Academy of Pediatrics today. Shame on you, AAP; you do not speak for me.


  1. Thank you for this. I had not heard it...what a bunch of idiots!

  2. I can't bear to think of all the babies who will be hurt by this position statement.

  3. I'll preface this comment with my opinion, I am against unnecessary surgery and I think for most cases this type of surgery is unnecessary.

    I did however once know a person who did not have a circumcision as a baby, but opted to have it as an adult because his penis was extremely sensitive. For him, it made having sex, and masturbation painful.

    I am not saying that because of this one case that all babies should be circumcised.

    I am saying that in some cases, it is necessary.

    In all cases, it should be the choice of the individual.

    1. I totally agree with you, M. I apologize if it wasn't clear in my post that I'm referring to the necessity of routine circumcision of babies versus circumcision as a consenting adult.

      My objection with the revised AAP position statement in this context is that it is aimed at influencing parents of minors, not at adults who have been given the option to make this decision for themselves. I take no issue with any adult who chooses elective surgery of any kind. (His body; his choice.) I do feel very strongly, however, that it's not alright for us to make those kinds of choices (about elective, cosmetic procedures) for other people—especially children—without their consent.

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