This 'Health Brief' regarding circumcision, published on page 18 of the July 2009 issue of American Baby Magazine, is not only untrue, but disturbing on many levels. I will break down my response to the primary lies included in this 'brief' below.
The CDC (listed by American Baby as the source for this inaccurate information) has never made such statements regarding circumcision. They have, however, publicly released circumcision statistics for the past several decades and record/report that there has never been a nation-wide circumcision rate higher than the all-time high of 65% of baby boys cut at birth in the U.S. in 1980. AHRQ (The Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality) also cites the highest newborn circumcision rate at 65% in 1980. Furthermore, the rates of circumcision have steadily declined every year since 1980 as more parents research the topic ahead of time and become accurately and fully informed. By 2005, the CDC reports a nationwide circumcision rate of 56%, and even lower (31%) on the Coasts. In 2009 we are finally seeing a dip below the 50% mark - over 1/2 baby boys born today are remaining INTACT thanks to knowledgeable parents who care enough to research the topic fully before cutting their son.
As part of our medical research pertaining to the prepuce organ & genital cutting, we reviewed the past decade of CDC circumcision statistics, as well as disease/STD and UTI reports. The actual reports counter every aspect of this American Baby statement.
Unfortunately, the U.S. does still have the highest rate of circumcision of any Western nation. However, our rates (as atrocious as they are) are FAR below the quoted 79%. Rather, in 2008 about 50% of newborn boys were cut at birth. This is still much greater than ANY other developed nation -- Canada is second in line with a circumcision rate of 10% newborn boys being cut. Interestingly enough, the U.S. also has the HIGHEST rate of all STDs of any Western nation (including HIV). On the other hand, developed nations where 98-99% of boys/men remain intact, we find the lowest rates of STDs (including HIV). If circumcision 'protected' against diseases (which it certainly does not - it does JUST THE OPPOSITE)...but if it did, we would NOT see these figures to such an extreme and obvious degree.
There are no "African Studies" on circumcision and AIDS as the popular media loves to claim. There were three trials (that were not valid/reliable/repeatable or peer-reviewed in any way) conducted by a research team funded and propelled by Americans with the preliminary purpose of going into South Africa to circumcise the black adult men there. Countless medical groups from around the world have critiqued and called into question the methods used for this study. When their first "results" showed no difference between cut vs. uncut men, another small sample of African men was 'recruited' and divided ahead of time into those who tested positive vs. negative for HIV and those who were cut vs. uncut so the 'sample' could be an accurate picture of what they were hoping to show. Although this whole thing is bogus to begin with -- EVEN IF IT WEREN'T - it has NOTHING to do with the routine genital cutting of baby boys in the United States! A good article on this: http://www.mothering.com/truth
By simply looking at the purposes/functions of the prepuce organ ('foreskin') we see that one of its primary reasons for existing is protection and to COMBAT illness/disease by naturally warding off bacteria/viruses with its own perfect concoction of antibodies. Remove it, and this most excellent source of protection is gone. When I reviewed EVERY SINGLE study done on the topic as part of my graduate study & dissertation publication, I found that it has been repeatedly demonstrated that circumcised men (in all countries) have higher rates of ALL STDs (HIV included) across the board. Intact men certainly are at a benefit as far as health is concerned.
And all this said -- why on earth are we focusing so much on cutting/not cutting genitals when it comes to STDs?! The only real protection is:
(1) to abstain from sex w/ infected partners or
(2) use condoms.
Maybe we should pour our $ and resources into condom use/education rather than trying to cut up men worldwide...
The race-related study imposed by white American men on black S.African men is reminiscent of another STD 'study' done years ago... Tuskegee, anyone?
Women/girls have a 900x greater likelihood of getting a UTI than men/boys. Among men/boys a urinary tract infection is very rare, and when it does happen, is almost always due to an unknowledgeable adult messing with, forcibly retracting, or over-cleaning a baby boy's penis. Should we cut off the prepuce organ of all girls at birth? Obviously they would 'benefit' more than the boys...No, of course not. Because UTIs are minor and EASILY and quickly treated with antibiotics. UTIs among boys (especially in the first year of life) are even easier to PREVENT by following a simple rule of thumb:
INTACT = DON'T RETRACT! ONLY CLEAN WHAT IS SEEN!
There are many reasons that NOT ONE Medical Organization in the entire WORLD (including the CDC) recommends circumcision. This tells us something and should have been reflected in American Baby's quip.
When we started removing the prepuce organ in a U.S. rampage at the end of WWII, we KNEW what it would do to men's sexuality - their sexual sensation, their sexual experience - and that of their partner. Our primary goal was to REDUCE sexual fulfillment among men by removing the ONE organ MOST responsible. We hoped (at least Kellogg and Graham hoped and preached) that it would curtail masturbation among boys and reduce promiscuity among men. Our soldiers would be "healthier" in future wars - more able to focus on the war at hand - rather than picking up women (and thereby diseases) around the world. Of course, it never did work to diminish masturbation, promiscuity, disease - or blindness for that matter! But it DID reduce a nation of men's natural sexuality & experience.
Why is it that American Baby not only presents an inaccurate picture of circumcision (with an outright statistics lie) but also neglects to present an entire mountain of empirical research and information on the history of circumcision in the United States, as well as the real-life risks and consequences of the surgery? How about mentioning the rate that baby boys die, lose their penis, hemorrhage, go into pain-induced shock, coma, have seizures, heart-failure, trouble breastfeeding, bonding failure, poor attachments, increased colic for months following the assault, infections from the wound, sexual dysfunction and implications later in life, among countless other side effects.
If parents are really to make an informed decision, why not mention the fact that circumcision also hurts a boy's future partner - why not talk about how male circumcision impacts women? [Graphic, but informative site on this topic: http://www.
And none of this gets at the heart of the human rights violation of circumcision. In the end, a man's body is HIS body. If he wants to cut up his nether regions when he is old enough to say "CUT ME," then so be it. But at birth, a crucial time of primal attachment, bonding, hormone rushes, trust/distrust formation, heightened sensitivity - especially to pain, along with countless other things - it is NOT the time to play hack-saw with a boy's most sensitive organ. It is not anyone's right to remove 1/3-1/2 the penis surface, the most erogenous area, the ridged band, 20,000+nerve endings, mucus membranes, sebaceous glands, and more - forever impacting this man's future life/health/sexuality along with that of his partner, without his knowledge and full informed consent. It is a complete violation of human rights and genital integrity. Let us work toward the passing of the MGM Bill to protect the 40%+ newborn boys still cut at birth.
If American Baby really wishes to present an accurate (and full) picture of circumcision in the U.S. -- to actually empower parents in their decision with factual information, rather than to persuade the unknowing with rabidly pro-cutting false propaganda -- they will print a rebuttal and future retractions to this media atrocity.
I encourage you, Reader, to write to American Baby so that this does not go unnoticed or uncorrected.
Judith Nolte, Editor-in-Chief
American Baby Magazine... Read More
c/o Meredith Corp.
375 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017
For additional information on intact care, the prepuce (foreskin) and circumcision, see books, articles and sites at: Are You Fully Informed?
After receiving many letters from parents, physicians, researchers, and even CDC members, "American Baby" stated that they based their little write-up on this one particular article abstract:
Prevalence of Circumcision and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Infection in Men in the United States: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2004.
It is obvious that the editor was searching for anything they could skew enough to misrepresent circumcision statistics today.
In 2008, I read a similar publication on this study (printed in a different medical journal).
This study does not present anything new -- yes, a lot of men were circumcised between the 1940s-1970s and it (thankfully) started to decrease in the 1980s. We already know this. The rate of men cut at birth decreased as the 1980s progressed (greatly due to parents who started learning of the horrors of circumcision and began speaking out in the late 1970s).
The fact that this small sample of adult men surveyed revealed a 79% circumcised rate (among those men returning the survey) does not change or impact the rate of newborns circumcised in any given year in the United States. According to the CDC, this rate has never been higher than 65% and today is down to 50%. This small sample survey study is also not a reliable representation of all U.S. males currently alive today.
Was this "American Baby" piece really written by someone who does not understand survey research and the way statistics are presented?
Making a blanket statement about the CDC's research and presenting the numbers as such is an outright lie.
Why "American Baby" ignores the 2nd part of the study that shows NO correlation between infection and circumcision is also cause for question.
The final line in the study's abstract repeats what ALL the other medical studies on circumcision and STDs have shown: "Circumcision was not associated with HSV-2 infection."
I had the opportunity to study this topic extensively while in graduate school, looked at every disease of the prepuce organ (in women and men), and know the circumcision research inside and out. "American Baby" is presenting mis-truths and outright lies and needs to print a correction and apology to all American parents and the CDC who they are misrepresenting.