By Andrew E MacNeily, MD, FRCSC, FAAP
For millennia, routine newborn male circumcision has been endorsed for a variety of purported benefits. Over the ages, claimed advantages have included the formation of a covenant with god, the enhancement of sexual pleasure, the reduction of sexual pleasure, and a cure for bedwetting, syphilis, penile cancer, mental illness and masturbation.1 In more modern times, some advocates of circumcision have equated the procedure to a form of vaccination.2 Circumcision is thus depicted as protective against future problems of the foreskin such as phimosis and recurrent balanitis as well as neonatal urinary infection (UTI), cervical carcinoma and HIV/AIDS. Do these potential advantages justify routine circumcision of healthy newborn males on a widespread scale? Should public policy dictate that health care resources be redirected to this procedure when all but 1 province in Canada has delisted newborn circumcision from the schedule of insured services? Let's look at the evidence.