Don't Retract Pack

Circumcision Study Ends Early Due to Infant Trauma

This study is an old one (1997) but we still find that the majority of baby boys circumcised in the United States go under the knife for surgery without anesthesia. Unfortunately, even when it is used, we are not able to eliminate the pain from the anesthesia injection (babies are at a significantly heightened level of sensitivity following birth) and even our best dorsal block injections do not numb below the perineal nerve, where the frenulum is torn back over the glans and is cut. It is no surprise that most babies scream wildly to escape the cutting, must be restrained to counter their physical attempts at escape, or they lapse into a semi-comatose state to survive the trauma.

ATLANTA (CNN) A new study found circumcision so traumatic that doctors ended the study early rather than subject any more babies to the operation without anesthesia.

The researchers discovered that for those circumcised without anesthesia there was not only severe pain, but also an increased risk of choking and difficulty breathing.

The necessity of circumcision is the subject of increasing debate, but the traditional reasons for the operations have always been prevention.

Approximately 96% of babies in the United States and Canada receive no anesthesia if and when they are circumcised, according to a report from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. [As of 2009, 32% of newborn boys born in the United States and 9% of newborn boys born in Canada undergo circumcision surgery.]

One of the reasons anesthesia is not used, the study found, is the belief that infants feel little or no pain from the procedure. It has been argued by some that injecting anesthesia can be as painful as circumcision itself, and that infants don't remember the procedure, anyway. Other physicians state that the infants do, certainly, feel the pain of genital cutting, but that it takes longer to use anesthesia, and wait for it to take effect, than it does to just do the clamping and cutting and complete the surgery.

There are, however, those who find the 'no pain' or 'no memory' reasoning difficult to believe, and Dr. Aurthur Gumer is one of them.

"To say that the baby doesn't remember it is not an adequate excuse to me," he said. "Babies experience other painful procedures to a greater degree than adults do, and we worry about that, and we do give them anesthetics for those procedures."

The Edmonton researchers, whose study was published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, studied the heart rates and crying patterns of babies during different stages of circumcision. Some babies were given an anesthetic, and others were not.

Rabbi Ariel Asa has performed hundreds of circumcisions. When families request it, he says he puts an anesthetic on the skin, in an effort to reduce some of the pain. But he admits it is not very effective, and there are frequent complications.

"Due to the fact that moyels (those who perform the cutting blessing in the Jewish community) do it very quickly and the pain that the baby experiences is minimal. I don't think that the overall benefits are gained [from anesthesia]," he says.

But researchers found that while topical anesthetics may help initially, they are woefully inadequate during prepuce tearing, separation and amputation.

They concluded that if circumcision must be performed, it should be preceded by an injected anesthetic that is given time to take effect.

In fact, they found the results so compelling that they took the unusual step of stopping the study before it was scheduled to end rather than subjecting any more babies to circumcision without anesthesia.

Medical Correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore and Reuters contributed to this report.

Related Reading:

MRI Studies: Brain Permanently Altered From Infant Circumcision
Infant Pain Impacts Adult Sensitivity and Perception

Prepuce (foreskin), intact care and circumcision resources cataloged at: Are You Fully Informed? 


  1. If people are up in arms about a "cultural nick" for girls, we should be FURIOUS about circumcision for boys.

    The double-standard in this country of crying bloody murder for a simple "nick," but looking the other way for the attrocity that is male infant circumcision is absolutely outrageous.

    1. I feel the same way, it is child cruelty for boys and girls, and must be made illegal.

  2. My thoughts EXACTLY, Joseph. I was astonished that so many people were outraged at the suggestion of allowing a ritual nick to baby girls, but don't even speak up about the horrors done to baby boys. What hypocrites!

  3. Intersting that when you google this you can't find it on CNN anymore...gah!!!!!

  4. its amazing how any articles of evidence that show circumcision is a bad thing are always hard to find require logging-in to access or just vanish,the pro-circ agenda has its evil tendrils reaching out everywhere shutting down info and influencing the media .its like communism used to be

  5. A couple of years back I was having a few medical problems and I was in the hospital for some tests. I was to have a tube/camera put down my oesophagus, and another into my anus and into my bowel. I was given a drug that was like a twilight sleep .. I was half conscious and when I came round I remembered nothing.

    The doctor came around and was explaining what he did .. he said he didn't get do the tube/camera via my anus. And that he 'might do it another time'. I was upset as it had not been pleasant to take all the laxative meds beforehand... and said "WHY didn't you do it when you said you would ??" He explained that I had seemed to be in distress about it even with the 'twilight sleep'. I said that he could have gone on and I wouldn't have remembered it ! He said something I shall NEVER forget -

    " But I couldn't DO that " he said .."THAT is what the Nazis did to their victims...... it's not right!"

    How ... can anyone think that a baby doesn't feel pain? How can anyone think that hacking off the end of a little baby boy's penis doesn't cause excruciating agony ... and ..... just because he 'won't remember the pain' it's ok ??? Perhaps ... anyone who believes that ...should talk to my doctor.....

    And Circumcision is genital mutilation for NO good reason ... and a lot of bad ones... it should be stopped at once.

  6. Exactly. If only parents were allowed to see the pain the baby boy has to bear for an unnecessary, traumatic and disfiguring surgery, perhaps this stone age ritual would stop.

  7. I feel that circumcision should be banned unless medically necessary at some later date. That if a parent ASKS for it, they should have to watch a real one, or even several on film. Then they should be told WHY it isn't legal and unnecessary and cruel - just in case the film didn't get through to them!

  8. Before the early 1980's unanesthized circumcision was common. As a matter of fact, very few were given anything to address the pain. But about that time, it was recognized that these babies do feel the pain intensely and a push was instituted to provide pain management.

    It appears the push worked somewhat with the rates climbing up into the lower 20% range during the late 1990's but something odd happened. After peaking, it began falling again and by 2007, the percentage of infants receiving pain management had fallen to a miserable 6%. (SIX PECENT!)

    This is torture that if perpetrated on animals would send these people to prison yet they get away with it thousands of times every day! I think anyone who foists this type of suffering on innocent babies should spend a very long time considering their crime looking out from behind very strong bars at the state's expense.


  9. Male circumcision is a complex subject in many ways, with many "tributaries" flowing into this river of controversy. Since the free will of the individual male is entirely contravened, he should be free upon reaching age 18, to select a part of his circumciser's anatomy to excise, with or without anesthesia, at his sole discretion. He might wish to apply an instep borer to the circumciser's instep, as was used by Roman Catholics in The Inquisition. If the circumciser is deceased, he may draw a name from a container of slips of paper of local circumcisers. The part he opts to remove must be something the circumciser can continue to survive without, such as a kneecap. This would be mere balancing the scales of justice. Something very seldom pointed out in this subject is the activity of succubae (plural of succubus, a female demon who rapes males) in egging on mothers and female doctors to surgically torture male genitals while manhating nurses laugh about and tell jokes to other manhaters when they go to have their hair styled. Absent this application of hatred against males, I submit far fewer women would be beaten by boyfriends and husbands.

  10. I was circumcised when I was 2 weeks old and the resident who did the procedure botched it. I had to go through 2 surgeries later on in life. One a 6 years old and another at 13. One side of my penis is basically numb.

    When I turned 18 I found the Doctor who botched the circumcision and told her exactly what I thought of her and her surgical skills. Apparently she was badly shaken. Not because she mutilated me, but because I had found her and confronted her on her mutilation of my penis and the subsequent sexual issues I have as a young man. I've looked into taking her to court, but getting a lawyer to take the case is impossible, not enough $$ for them. Looks like I will have to do this Pro Se.

    1. If it's not too late to take her to court, try Attorney for the Rights of the Child. This sort of case is their specialty.

  11. What did she say? What did the doctor say when you told her? Did she have anything to say about what she did? Im so would think that the cost of the original circumcision, then the first and second corrective surgery, the pain and suffering you have had to go through and any on-going issues would be a good case agaisnt the doctor who did it to you... I think there are lawyers out there who do circumcision cases...i have seen them mentioned before but i have no resources sorry... Me and my husband have been thinking about getting a prosthetic foreskin...maybe it can help with the scaring..and the loss of sensation.

  12. Here's the link to the news report :