Death from Circumcision Higher Than Suffocation and Auto Accidents

By Dr. Ryan McAllister, Ph.D.
Read more from McAllister at and the D.C. Family Health Examiner

More than half of parents in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia choose to circumcise their boys. But are these parents ever really informed of the possible complications? Generally, no, and this failure in the informed consent process has significant consequences for many boys, for example the penile injuries discussed by a local pediatric urologist in this article. But this physician sees only boys who live. How many children die each year as a result of circumcision in the U.S. hasn't been recorded or even considered important by any medical establishment.

A new study published last week 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 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.

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 infant circumcision.

Related Reading: 

Death From Circumcision:

Intact vs. Circumcised: Outcome Statistics

Bollinger, Dan. "Lost Boys: An Estimate of U.S. Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths." Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies. 2010;4(1):78-90.

A biophysicist studying breast cancer cell behavior, McAllister is also a long-time parent- and child- advocate. He co-parents a child with a rare genetic variation and significant developmental differences. He founded, an all-volunteer organization that supports the physical and emotional well being of parents, children, and communities. He also co-founded a family-inclusive intentional community in the DC area. McAllister addresses controversial issues from compassionate and evidence-based perspectives. Email him at


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