Babies Remember Circumcision Pain

Above graphic from Intact Houston, a local chapter of Saving Our Sons

This data is dated, but holds true for babies born today. There is a certain and lasting indication of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) that exhibits in babies who are subjected to forced genital cutting at birth. Further studies indicated that this increased experience of pain lasts even into adulthood.

Shared at: Doctor's Guide Publishing

TORONTO, Feb. 28, 1997 - Male infants feel pain during circumcision and they remember that pain six months later when they receive their routine vaccination, according to a study led by Hospital for Sick Children (HSC) researchers. The results of this study, led by Dr. Gideon Koren, head of Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology at HSC and a Professor of Pediatrics, Pharmacology, and Medicine at the University of Toronto, are reported in the March 1 issue of the British medical journal Lancet.

Earlier research led by Dr. Koren had indicated that male infants demonstrate a greater pain response to vaccination than female infants. The current study sought to determine whether there was a difference between circumcised and uncircumcised male infants in their pain response to vaccination, and whether pretreatment of circumcision pain with a topical anesthetic affected the pain response to vaccination.

The study involved 87 male infants in three groups: 32 uncircumcised infants; 29 infants receiving a topical anesthetic prior to circumcision; and 26 who were circumcised without pain relief. The infants were recruited to the study through Women's College Hospital. Between ages four and six months, the infants received routine diptheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT) vaccinations from their primary care physician and their pain response to the vaccination was measured. "What we discovered was that the infants who were [intact] demonstrated the least pain during vaccination," Dr. Koren explains. "The infants who were circumcised showed substantially more pain."

Pain response was measured by monitoring facial expression, duration of crying, blood pressure, and heart rate. In addition, parents and the primary care physician completed a questionnaire regarding their perception of the severity of pain the infant was experiencing.

"This study demonstrates two important findings," says Dr. Koren. "It shows that infants do in fact feel pain, and that their pain is not short-lived, as previously thought. Consequently, adequate pain relief should be routinely used during circumcision and any other medical and surgical procedures where pain is possible."

Graphic from Intact Kalamazoo, a local chapter of Saving Our Sons

Related Reading:

All pain studies conducted on circumcision in the US and Canada have come to an early end as a result of infant trauma.

The Brain Altered by Circumcision

Infant Pain Impacts Adult Sensitivity

Boys cut at birth move their bodies differently

Circumcision: How Much Does it Hurt?

A plastibell circumcision (the type used in Patti Ramos' photo essay on circumcision) - the company likes to claim genital cutting does not hurt as much when plastic clamps are used rather than metal clamps

Reports from mothers who observed son's circumcision

Reports from a father who observed his son's circumcision: Stop MGM and Will You Make the Cut?

Men on this site tell their stories of how circumcision impacted them.

Babies "voice their opinion" [video clip of common newborn reactions]

A mother of 2 circumcised sons researches it before her 3rd is born

Another plastibell circumcision is video taped here


Increased Dangers of Circumcision Report (pdf) at


  1. Thank you for posting this. My husband wanted "reasons" for not circumcising our children if they happened to be boys. I sent him a handful of links to make my reasonings sink in. Yuck!

  2. I am glad someone is finally informing people that babies do remember the pain. I was circumcised without anesthesia and I still remember the pain to this very day. 28 years later! The fact of the matter is memories are always more clear when pain is involved. I remember very little about being a baby, but I remember all of the pain all too clear.

    It should also be known that circumcision reduces sexual sensitivity in boys the same way it does in girls. Today female circumcision is called "Female Mutilation" for this very reason. A child who is circumcised might be so insensitive that he will even be unable to ejaculate during sexual intercourse ("delayed ejaculation" is the 3rd most common form of sexual dysfunction and has no treatment options because doctors are still under the impression it's psychological in origin) which means that if you circumcise your son you will have a very real chance at preventing your son from ever having children. It's as barbaric a practice as female mutilation and needs to be stopped.



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