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:
- Preventing penile cancer, though the American Cancer Society denounces circumcision as an effective preventative measure and penile cancer is even more rare than breast cancer in men;
- Preventing STIs: the statement disregards research that doesn't support this claim, fails to even mention condom usage as an option, and ignores the fact that the US has both the highest rates of circumcision and HIV in the developed world;
- and preventing urinary tract infections, which are effectively prevented by breastfeeding and easily treated with antibiotics.
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.