Of course any procedure can result in infection. However the difference between routine infant circumcision and other surgical procedures is the elective, cosmetic nature of prepucectomy. Furthermore, the difference between routine infant circumcision and other elective, cosmetic procedures is the nature of consent: an adult understands the risks of their voluntary surgery, the infant cannot. Yet, doctors still perform it without medical indication.
Five hours later, the parents returned to their family doctor with the infant, who had become “irritable and had blue discolouration” below the belly button. Doctors noticed the discolouration and slight swelling of the penis, but sent the child home.
Fourteen hours after the circumcision, according to Cairns, the child was brought to another hospital where doctors noted he was extremely irritable with marked swelling of the penis and bruising to the scrotum.
The child was then transferred to a paediatric centre, where his bladder was diagnosed, Cairns said, to “seven or eight times its normal size.”
The PlastiBell ring, which is used to hold back the foreskin after circumcision, was removed and drained and the child went into shock. “If the PlastiBell had been taken off five hours after he got there, he would be alive,” said Cairns.
And likely with lasting physiological harm. Take into account that a recent study in the British Journal of Urology shows that circumcised males have less genital sensation than do intact males. This contrasts with previous research, which for the most part was done with adult males who underwent circumcision and were interviewed. In the case of the BJU paper (from the press release):
Adult male volunteers were evaluated with a 19 point Semmes-Weinstein monofilament touch-test to map fine-touch pressure thresholds of the penis. Circumcised and uncircumcised men were compared using mixed models for repeated data, controlling for age, type of underwear worn, time since test ejaculation, ethnicity, country of birth, and level of education.This was a physiological test of sensitivity, which should not be as affected by demand characteristics as a questionnaire. Those who undergo voluntary circumcision have an psychological incentive to report that they have the same amount of feeling. It is much more difficult to fool the test which was used.
If you were to tell a medical ethics board, who are blind to the nature of the procedure, that you wanted to encourage a new surgical intervention on neonates that had questionable benefits, all the risks of other surgical procedures, and likely caused decreased tactile sensitivity, you would be swiftly, and rightfully, shown the exit. Pro-circumcision forces have the burden of proof, and have consistently failed to show a significant benefit of routine infant circumcision. Now why exactly is this procedure still the most common surgical procedure in the United States?
Blogs on this topic:
The Island of Doubt
Too Many Tribbles