A new study published yesterday in Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies estimates that more than 100 baby boys die from circumcision complications each year, including from anesthesia reaction, stroke, hemorrhage, and infection. Because infant circumcision is elective, all of these deaths are avoidable.
The International Coalition for Genital Integrity applauds that, for the first time, a rational attempt has been made to estimate the scale of the problem, and is simultaneously appalled by how many baby boys needlessly die each year in the United States.
The study concluded: “These boys died because physicians have been either complicit or duplicitous, and because parents ignorantly said ‘Yes,’ or lacked the courage to say ‘No.’” And called the deaths “an unrecognized sacrifice of innocents.”
The study found that approximately 117 neonatal (first 28 days after birth) circumcision-related deaths occur annually in the United States, one out of every 77 male neonatal deaths. The study also identified reasons why accurate data on these deaths are not available, some of the obstacles to preventing these deaths, and some solutions to overcome them.
Previous studies estimated the death rate as low as two per year to as many as 230. The study collected data from hospital records and government sources to attempt to provide a more accurate magnitude of the problem.
To put this in perspective, about 44 neonatal boys die each year from suffocation, and 8 from auto accidents. About 115 neonatal boys die annually from SIDS, nearly the same as from circumcision.
Because of the inadequacies of the death-certificate system and the apparent lack of investigation, it is easy to see how the medical system could either unwittingly or intentionally obscure the true cause of these deaths.
To hospital residents, the birth of a boy is celebrated as an opportunity to practice surgery, but a resident’s first surgery upon a live human being does not always go as planned.
Many factors combine to explain the lack of reliable mortality data or why this problem has not received more attention. To ignore or hide the likely cause of so many infant deaths for so many years requires a significant amount of denial or obfuscation—by: parents, physicians, hospital staff, insurers, medical associations, and legislators.
Boys have been lost to circumcision in the United States from the time it was first practiced to the present day, for a variety of reasons, as the following examples illustrate. The first two, known reported circumcision-related deaths were in New York City, in 1856 and 1858, where circumcision was introduced.
Additional information about death from circumcision can be found here.
Books, research, and websites on the prepuce (foreskin), intact care and circumcision at: Are You Fully Informed?