Where Circumcision Does NOT Prevent HIV

By Joseph Lewis © 2011
Read more from Lewis at Joseph4GI

There's currently a lot of hype surrounding circumcision and the transmission of HIV. The word on people's lips is that "circumcision reduces HIV transmission by 60%." The claim is based on the result of three major "studies" that were carried out in Africa, but there are a few confounding factors that bring the validity of these so-called "studies" into question. One of the greatest confounding factors in these studies is empirical evidence to the contrary; real world data from countries where circumcision is already a widespread practice and studies with contrary results.

Countries in Africa

Let's begin with countries in Africa, where these "studies" would be relevant. According to demographic health surveys performed in other countries in Africa, HIV transmission was prevalent in circumcised men in at least 6 different countries. I go one by one, analyzing some of the commentary in these surveys, some of which seems to be revealing of the researchers' bias.

In Cameroon, where 91% of the male population is circumcised, the ratio of circumcised men vs. intact men who contracted HIV was 4.1 vs. 1.1. (See p. 17) http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR163/16chapitre16.pdf

"...the vast majority of Ghanaian men (95 percent) are circumcised... There is little difference in the HIV prevalence by circumcision status..." (1.6 vs 1.4 See p. 13) http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR152/13Chapter13.pdf

In Lesotho, 23% of the men are circumcised, and the ratio circumcised men vs. intact men who contracted HIV was 22.8 vs 15.2.

"The relationship between male circumcision and HIV levels in Lesotho does not conform to the expected pattern of higher rates among uncircumcised men than circumcised men. The HIV rate is in fact substantially higher among circumcised men (23 percent) than among men who are not circumcised (15 percent). Moreover, the pattern of higher infection rates among circumcised men compared with uncircumcised men is virtually uniform across the various subgroups for which results are shown in thetable. This finding could be explained by the Lesotho custom to conduct male circumcision later in life, when the individuals have already been exposed to the risk of HIV infection. (Additional analysis is necessary to better understand the unexpected pattern in Table 12.9.)" (p. 13)

What is disturbing here is that it seems researchers grope for a reason to dismiss these results because they are not what they are looking for; a positive result for circumcision. The above is an interesting defense of male circumcision, given the fact that the latest "studies," if they can even be called that, observed HIV trasmission in men circumcised as adults. Then again, this demographic health survey was conducted in 2004, BEFORE the newer "studies" in 2006. None the less, the unproven assertion that "circumcision is only effective in reducing the risk of HIV when done in infancy" persists in some circles. http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR171/12Chapter12.pdf

In Malawi, 20% of the male population is circumcised. The ratio of circumcised vs. intact men who contracted HIV was 13.2 vs 9.5.

"The relationship between HIV prevalence and circumcision status is not in the expected direction. In Malawi, circumcised men have a slightly higher HIV infection rate than men who were not circumcised (13 percent compared with 10 percent). In Malawi, the majority of men are not circumcised (80 percent)(...where one would expect HIV to be the most rampant... note the "expected direction.") (p. 10) http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR175/12Chapter12.pdf

According to a demographic health survey taken in 2005, the ratio of circumcised vs. intact men who contracted HIV was 3.8 vs 2.1. (See p. 10) http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR183/15Chapter15.pdf

 In a recent demographic health survey (2006-2007), the ratio of circumcised vs. intact men who contracted HIV was found to be 22 vs. 20.

As Table 14.10 shows, the relationship between HIV prevalence and circumcision status is not in the expected direction. Circumcised men have a slightly higher HIV infection rate than men who are not circumcised (22 percent compared with 20 percent). (p. 256) http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR202/FR202.pdf

Here is that "expected direction" again. The majority of Swazi men are uncircumcised, and one would especially expect to see HIV prevalence here. HIV transmission was more prevalent in the circumcised men here, yet our (the US) government has decided to spend millions on a campaign to circumcise 80% of the men in Swaziland. http://joseph4gi.blogspot.com/2011/05/soka-uncobe-our-us-tax-dollars-at-work.html

Other Countries Where HIV/Circumcision Rates Don't Correlate

According to Malaysian AIDS Council vice-president Datuk Zaman Khan, more than 70% of the 87,710 HIV/AIDS sufferers in the country are Muslims. In Malaysia, most, if not all Muslim men are circumcised, whereas circumcision is uncommon in the non-Muslim community. 60% of the Malaysian population is Muslim, which means that HIV is spreading in the community where most men are circumcised at an even faster rate, than in the community where most men are intact. http://www.mmail.com.my/content/39272-72-percent-aidshiv-sufferers-malaysia-are-muslims-says-council

The Philippines 
In the Philippines, the majority of the male population is circumcised, as it is seen as an important rite of passage. In the 2010 Global AIDS report released by UNAIDS in late November, the Philippines was one of seven nations in the world which reported over 25 percent in new HIV infections between 2001 and 2009, whereas other countries have either stabilized or shown significant declines in the rate of new infections. Among all countries in Asia, only the Philippines and Bangladesh are reporting increases in HIV cases, with others either stable or decreasing. http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20110102-312124/Philippines-HIVAIDS-problem-worries-UN

Despite circumcision being near-universal, it hasn't stopped HIV transmission in Israel:




The most obvious smoking gun: The United States of America 
Circumcision hasn't stopped HIV in our own country. http://data.unaids.org/pub/Report/1998/19981125_global_epidemic_report_en.pdf

And, it hasn't stopped other STIs either. http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/01/13/us-infections-usa-idUSTRE50C5XV20090113?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

In America, the majority of the male population is circumcised, approximately 80%, while in most countries in Europe, circumcision is uncommon. Despite these facts, our country does poorly. http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=419&Itemid=177

In fact, AIDS rates in some US Cities rival hotspots in Africa. In some parts of the U.S., they're actually higher than those in sub-Saharan Africa. According to a 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, rates of HIV among adults in Washington, D.C. exceed 1 in 30; rates higher than those reported in Ethiopia, Nigeria or Rwanda. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1000069

The Washington D.C. district report on HIV and AIDS reported an increase of 22% from 2006 in 2009:
"[Washington D.C.'s] rates are higher than West Africa... they're on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya." Shannon L. Hader, HIV/AIDS Administration, Washington D.C., March 15, 2009
Hader once led the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work in Zimbabwe. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/14/AR2009031402176.html

One would expect for there to be a lower transmission rates in the United States, and for HIV to be rampant in Europe; HIV transmission rates are in fact higher in the United States, where most men are circumcised, than in various countries in Europe, where most men are intact. It is telling that the HIV epidemic struck in our country in the 1980s, 90% of the male population was already circumcised. Somehow, we're supposed to believe that what didn't worked in our own country, or anywhere else, is going to start working miracles in Africa.

Studies With Contrary Conclusions 

According to USAID, "There appears no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence—in 8 of 18 countries with data, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries it is higher." http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/CR22/CR22.pdf

"Conclusions: We find a protective effect of circumcision in only one of the eight countries for which there are nationally-representative HIV seroprevalence data. The results are important in considering the development of circumcision-focused interventions within AIDS prevention programs." http://www.iasociety.org/Default.aspx?pageId=11&abstractId=2197431

"Results: ...No consistent relationship between male circumcision and HIV risk was observed in most countries." http://apha.confex.com/apha/134am/techprogram/paper_136814.htm

"Conclusions: ...[M]ale circumcision... is not associated with HIV or STI prevention in this U. S. military population." http://www.drmomma.org/2008/01/circumcision-hiv-and-sexually.html

One study which aimed at measuring male to female HIV transmission was ended early, because the results were not looking favorable. The Wawer study showed a 54% higher rate of male-to-female transmission in the group where the men had been circumcised. The figures were too small to show statistical significance, but there will be no larger scale study to find out if circumcising men increases the risk to women. Somehow that's considered unethical, yet it's considered ethical to promote male circumcision while not knowing if the risk to women is increased (by 54%?, 25%?, 80%? - who knows?) http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2809%2960998-3/fulltext

The latest study in Kenya finds no association between male circumcision and lowered HIV rates:
Using a population-based survey we examined the behaviors, beliefs, and HIV/HSV-2 serostatus of men and women in the traditionally non-circumcising community of Kisumu, Kenya prior to establishment of voluntary medical male circumcision services. A total of 749 men and 906 women participated. Circumcision status was not associated with HIV/HSV-2 infection nor increased high risk sexual behaviors. In males, preference for being or becoming circumcised was associated with inconsistent condom use and increased lifetime number of sexual partners. Preference for circumcision was increased with understanding that circumcised men are less likely to become infected with HIV. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0015552?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+plosone/PLoSONE+%28PLoS+ONE+Alerts:+New+Articles%29 

A few select studies show a prevalence of HIV transmission in uncircumcised men, but real world empirical data shows that circumcision hasn't stopped HIV in countries where there is already a prevalence of the practice of circumcision, nevermind the United States. Yet, for whatever reason, leaders at the WHO continue to endorse it as HIV prevention policy and millions are being spent on so-called "mass circumcision campaigns," even in countries where HIV transmission was shown to be prevalent among the circumcised.

As if the waste of money weren't bad enough, reports are showing that these "mass circumcision" campaigns are actually proving to be disastrous, as they are confusing African citizens, and many now believe to be fully protected by circumcision. http://joseph4gi.blogspot.com/2011/05/male-circumcision-and-hiv-in-africa.html

Something must be done to alert our world leaders. Millions of precious funds are being used to promote a worthless surgical procedure that leaves men with permanently altered organs, and they are no better protected. The false security that the promotion of circumcision creates is actually helping to facilitate the spread of HIV. Funds are already scarce, and they could be better spent promoting cheaper, less invasive modes of prevention that have actually been proven to be conclusively effective, such as condoms and education. In light of the real-world evidence, promoting a worthless surgical procedure is an impertinent disservice in the fight against HIV/AIDS and governments need to be told to stop. Africans deserve better.

Further reading on HIV and circumcision can be found at AIDSCirc.org and at the HIV, AIDS & Circumcision Resource Page.

Informational cards available for distribution here: http://www.savingsons.org/p/info-cards.html


Cha Cha Cha Chia: The Wonder Seed

By April Sheets © 2011

"Cha Cha Cha Chia..."

Yes, that Chia! I never actually had a chia pet as a kid, but I had a TV and I sing that song every time I reach for the jar of chia from my cupboard. Who knew we'd be eating those amazing little seeds years later?

Here are some reasons you may want to grab your own jar of chia:

Chia is digested and absorbed very easily. This results in efficient assimilation for the cells and it is excellent to use when rapid development of tissue is taking place. For example: during growth periods of children and toddlers and growth and regeneration of tissue during pregnancy and lactation. Athletes use chia for regeneration of muscle tissue as well.

Chia is high in Omega 3s. It is the richest vegetable source for the omega-3 fatty acids. 30% of the chia seed’s oil comes from Omega 3 oil, while 40% of its oil is Omega 6 oil. If you aren't aware, Omega 3s are harder to obtain in our modern diet and we should be eating a balanced amount of 3s to 6s. These oils are essential for your body's ability to emulsify and absorb the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K which brings us to the fact that…

Chia is nutritious, full of protein, and rich in Boron (helping the body absorb calcium), and in alpha-linolenic fatty acid. Fatty acids are also related to normal functioning of the reproductive system. In addition, these nutrients support proper brain functioning.

Chia is good for the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland which are commonly stressed by most Americans.

Chia helps nourish skin cells, tissues, mucus membranes and nerves by assisting in the assimilation of phosphorus and stimulating the conversion of carotene into Vitamin A.

Chia balances blood sugar and lowers your risk for Type 2 diabetes. People experience a constant energy release throughout the day from chia, rather than highs and lows as other foods can cause.

Chia keeps you full. When water comes into contact with the seed, it gels up. This not only keeps you hydrated longer, but also keeps you feeling full and satiated. Many people use the gel for weight loss with a lot of success not only because the seeds keep you feeling full, but also because they cleanse your bowels. Because the gel is made with water, additional calories are not added. The seed can soak up ten times its own weight in water.

Chia can be used as an egg replacer in some recipes. It has not worked well for pancakes for me, but do try experimenting with it in other things. To replace one egg: mix 2 Tablespoons of chia with 1/2 cup of cold water. Let sit to set up 5-20 minutes. This makes 1/4 cup of chia gel.

Most of the time our family eats chia as a porridge (video below). I also make raw cacao chia pudding or freeze into fudge pops. Sometimes I'll throw chia into a smoothie and we'll stay full longer throughout the morning. Other people like to use chia seeds uncooked in salad dressings, spreads, cookies, cakes, muffins, and other baked goods.

My how to video for Chia Porridge and additional tips:

April Sheets is a peaceful parenting, babywearing and unschooling mom of three; an alternative medicine and natural immunity advocate; and raw food loving, juicing enthusiast. She is a lactivist, intactivist woman "altruistically trying to save the world from itself." Learn more from Sheets at Primitive Mommy: Instinctual Eating, Parenting and Living or find her at Primitive Mommy on Facebook.

Related Reading:

17 Benefits of Chia Seeds: Plus 13 ways to add chia to your diet: https://www.cookingdetective.com/17-benefits-of-chia-seeds-plus-recipes/



Poem and first photograph by Cassie Fox.
Additional inspiration from Fox at Cassie Fox Photography.
Birthmarks photos shared by peaceful parenting readers. To include your photo in this gallery, send to DrMomma.org@gmail.com

A mark for every breath you took, every blink, every sleepy yawn.

One for every time you sucked your thumb, waved hello, closed your eyes, 
and slept in the most perfect darkness. 

One for every time you had the hiccups. 
One for every dream you dreamed within me. 

It isn't very pretty anymore. 
Some may even think it's ugly. 

That's OK. 

It was your home.

It held you until my arms could, 
and for that, I will always find something beautiful in it. 

~ Cassie Fox

Related Reading:

Good Birth Books!

The Shape of a Mother

Love Your Mummy Tummy

Mother's Antithesis 

Lizzi Miller: The Beautiful, REAL Woman on p.194


Newborn Baby Survives Being Thrown Away into Trash Compactor; Know Your Safe Haven Options

Another newborn baby was thrown out with the trash this weekend. This time, despite going down a Brooklyn, New York trash compactor, the little one survived and is expected to make a full and healthy recovery (details below). In 2011, the majority of U.S. states have legislation allowing parents to drop unwanted newborns at "Save Haven" locations without repercussions of any kind, but it is an option Laquasia Wright must not have known of. Safe Havens started as an effort in 1999 in Texas to reduce the numbers of babies being abandoned and abused. Sometimes called the "Baby Moses Laws," they were established as an incentive for mothers in crisis to safely relinquish babies to designated locations where babies would be protected and provided with necessary medical care until a safe, loving, and permanent home is found. In most cases, a parent or person helping a parent may remain anonymous and is protected from prosecution in any form when a baby is dropped at a Safe Haven location. In the past 12 years, 49 states and Puerto Rico have established Safe Haven laws.

One problematic factor in infant Safe Haven locations is that there is no uniform protocol or drop locations nation wide. In some states it may be allowable to drop at a fire or police station, whereas in other states only hospitals or health clinics are legally able to accept an infant without question. In most states either parent may surrender his or her baby. In four states, only the mother may relinquish her baby. In 11 states, anyone with a parent's approval (an "agent" of a parent) may take a baby to a Safe Haven. Seven states do not specify who can drop off a baby.  Age of baby is another incongruent factor in U.S. Safe Haven laws. In 13 states, babies 3 days old or younger are taken in with no questions asked. In 16 states and Puerto Rico infants up to 1 month old are anonymously taken in. Other states have various newborn ages set in place for acceptance at Safe Havens.

In Wisconsin, for example, a "child may be left at a sheriff's office, police station, fire station, hospital, or other place where a law enforcement officer, emergency medical technician, or hospital staff member is located."  In addition, Wisconsin's safe haven providers:
  • Take custody of a baby the provider reasonably believes to be 3 days or younger who is left by a parent (mother or father) who does not express an intent to return for the child.
  • Take any action necessary to protect the health and safety of the child.
  • Within 24 hours after taking the child into custody, deliver the child to an intake worker.
  • Make available to the parent the maternal and child health toll-free telephone number maintained by the department.
  • The decision whether to accept the information made available is entirely voluntary on the part of the parent. No person may induce, coerce, or attempt to induce or coerce any parent into accepting that information.
  • If a parent who wishes to relinquish custody of his or her child is unable to travel to a safe haven provider, the parent may dial the telephone number.
New York's laws (where the last two babies were thrown away) are not as clearly laid out as Wisconsin. New York parents may drop off a baby at a Safe Haven that is up to 5 days old without questions asked to "an appropriate person at a suitable location."

In California, a baby may be given to anyone working at a fire station or hospital emergency room, with no questions asked and no fear of prosecution.

A baby of any age would be better off dropped at a Safe Haven than face abuse or neglect (or life endangerment) and with an increase in cases like this over the past 3 years, it may meet the needs of our little ones to establish more of an open, universal policy for Safe Havens.

Today, in 12 states, anonymity for a parent (or agent of the parent) is expressly guaranteed. In 24 states and Puerto Rico, a Safe Haven provider cannot ask a parent to provide identifying information. In 13 states also provide an assurance of confidentiality for any information that is voluntarily provided by the parent. In addition to the guarantee of anonymity, most states provide protection from criminal liability for parents who safely give up their newborn baby. As of 2010, 33 states and Puerto Rico had laws protecting parents from prosecution if a baby is given to a Safe Haven. If there is evidence that an infant has been abused or neglected, anonymity and protection from prosecution is forfeited.

Often, the very parents who do not know or understand that baby drop options exist are those looking for ways to escape the unwanted birth of their child, or find themselves struggling to cope with the heavy demands of a newborn parenting role they never desired to have.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a summary of State Infant Safe Haven laws here. Please become familiar with your state or local Safe Haven or "Baby Moses" laws and locations where unwanted babies may be dropped anonymously, and share this information in your circles of influence. If you work in a location (police station, fire station, shelter, hospital, clinic) that can serve as a Safe Haven for your state, please look into ways to establish this, and post signs to let everyone in the community know it exists. Although this may never impact you, it could save the life of a little one born to someone around you. If parents who throw away or inadvertently abuse their newborn babies knew that there were safe options for relinquishment, they may not resort to such drastic and damaging measures.

Following by Sam Levin and Bob Kappstatter for The Daily News

Against all odds, a newborn baby boy survived being thrown down a Brooklyn housing project trash compactor Sunday. The infant was rushed to nearby Brooklyn Hospital, where he was in stable condition, officials said.

Police said the building's superintendent called police after hearing the baby's cries from inside a plastic trash bag attached to the compactor chute about 9:20 a.m. in the Fort Greene Houses. The baby landed in the attached trash bag, which may have helped break its fall. The child appeared to be about 12 hours old and still had its umbilical cord attached, the source said.

Laquasia Wright, who lives on the eighth floor of the Walt Whitman Houses in Fort Greene, was charged with attempted murder and endangering the welfare of a child. Investigators suspect the baby was tossed from the eighth floor of the building.

Neighbors stood outside the building, shocked by the news. "That's just sad and pitiful. They need to burn in hell, that's what they need to do," said resident Tisha Holmes, 26. "People are shocked here. They could've given it to anybody. Ain't nobody in their civil mind would do that."

Fontaine Simon, 38, was upset to learn what had happened in her building. "Oh God, I hope the baby is all right," she said. "I've been living here for 30 years, nothing ever happened like this before - never."

Earlier this month, Dawa Lama of Woodside, Queens was charged with dumping her newborn girl in a bathroom trash can inside the emergency room at Elmhurst General Hospital. The child died a few days later.

AMT Children of Hope/Baby Safe Haven President, Timothy Jaccard, stands in front of one of the New York organization's nine mobile billboard trailers letting parents know they have options. 


Uganda Woman Divorces Husband For Getting Circumcised

Photo by Ron Magill 

According to reports out of Uganda today, a woman has decided to end her marriage, stating that her husband gave into the pressure to be circumcised. He says that it was forced upon him.

After evading circumcision his entire life (with pressure from outsiders starting as a teenager), Wanangwe traveled to his home village in Mbale for his uncle's wedding last week when he was arrested and circumcised against his will.

When she heard what had happened to her husband, Sarah gave him one week to heal. Sarah did not give Wanangwe any help, saying that he went against their marital agreements by getting circumcised.

After one week, Sarah desired to be sexually intimate with Wanangwe, who had not yet healed from the genital cutting inflicted upon him. When he resisted, she packed up her belongings and left, stating that Wanangwe should marry those who circumcised him.

Related Reading:

Male Circumcision and Women's Health

The Breast Milk Baby Nursed on Today

Kathie Lee and Andy Samberg with The Breast Milk Baby (video clips below)

This morning on Today, Kathie Lee pulled out the controversial petaled top and nursed her Breast Milk Baby on air, highlighting to viewers the innocent manner in which this breastfeeding doll works. While her co-host, Hoda, came at the subject with less admiration (using the world "weird" more than once), Kathie Lee made a number of clear and valid points in favor of children's normal mothering play - part of which involves the natural feeding of human babies. She says:
Nursing your child is the most natural thing in the world. Men don't believe it, but that really is the reason God gave women breasts - it is for the nurturing of your children.

[As for the dolls:] It's play. I've been to Europe a lot. And in Europe they have a very different attitude toward breastfeeding. They whip 'em out anywhere they are to feed their children, and I think that's a healthy thing. Here, you can grab a woman's breast or booty anywhere, but heaven forbid the mother try to feed her child. I think we really have things kind of screwed up.

I don't think there is anything wrong with teaching your child how to nurture a baby someday.

What's the difference between
[this and] playing with a Barbie who is fully 'matured' if you know what I mean...?
At first, when Bebé Glotón was released (2009) and some lactiphobic persons were in an uproar about the doll, I found it slightly peculiar, albeit laughable. Were people really this offended by a doll that mimics the normal feeding of a human baby - an act that is entirely beautiful, basic, and deserving of celebration and seeing, even by other 'babies' themselves? But this year, when the U.S. market version of the doll - The Breast Milk Baby - hit store shelves, we saw an even more frightening backlash against the suckling little doll. Maybe it is in part because we are so incredibly nipplephobic in this nation, while at the same time being extremely erotophobic, sexist, degrading - even of women by women [see: Female Chauvinist Pigs], all the while grossly confusing the nurturing, vital (for health and normal development) act of feeding our young vs. using (or abusing) the female breasts for non-essential means. (1) Really, the outcry surrounding The Breast Milk Baby mirrors a deep societal ill - one that reflects and impacts the psychological wellness of our adult population. The doll itself, however, does not phase or negatively impact our children.

Would I spend $100 on The Breast Milk Baby? No, probably not. My two year old nurses his (yes, his) babies just fine via imaginative play without the fancy petals, moving mouth, overly-hungry-cries, or hefty price tag. But, if someone gave my child the baby as a gift would I be put off and scared about what it may do to his developing psyche? Absolutely not. In fact, the more breastfeeding - of both real human babies and toy dolls - that children see, the better off they will be.

What other species would possibly negate and criminalize the normal feeding of their own young? What other mammal (defined as such due to our need of mother's milk) would ridicule children's play that imitates the most tender, most vital, most mothering act there is? By doing so, we are, in essence, committing species suicide - killing off our own, through the slow, painful death of degeneration, disattachment, and illness (acute and chronic), generation upon generation. (2, 3, 4) If our children cannot break free from this absurd state of lactiphobic, disattached parenting, their own youth are in for even bigger problems. When breastmilk and nursing are no longer at the center of the mother-baby relationship, all else built upon that crucial time in life is constructed on unsteady ground. (5, 6, 7)

So, kudos to you, Kathie Lee. For standing up in defense of play that imitates something many gently parented little ones the world over dearly love and need: the feeding of babies close to our heart.

Related Reading:

Bebé Glotón: The Breastfeeding Doll

Bye-Bye Baby: Bebé Glotón SOLD OUT Worldwide

**Win a Free Breast Milk Baby** (May Contest)

Nursing a Costco Receipt

Breastfeeding Resource Page (books, websites, articles)


1) Levy, Ariel, (2006). Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture.

2) Gerhardt, Sue, (2004). Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain.

3) Heller, Sharon, (1997). The Vital Touch: How Intimate Contact With Your Baby Leads To Happier, Healthier Development.

4) Palmer, Linda, (2009). The Baby Bond: The New Science Behind What's Really Important When Caring for Your Baby.

5) Small, Meredith, (1999). Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent.

6) Grille, Robin, (2006). Parenting for a Peaceful World.

7) Liedloff, Jean. (1986). The Continuum Concept: In Search Of Happiness Lost.

Queens Baby Dies on Table During Circumcision

Source: Daily Mail Reporter

A two-year-old boy died on the operating table after circumcision. The devastated parents of Jamaal Coleson Jr, from Queens, are demanding to know why their son died during the procedure at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan.

Jamaal's uncle Jabbar Coleson, 23, said his nephew died on Tuesday about ten hours after he went in to be circumcised. His grieving parents - Taleah Echezerriam and Jamaal Coleson - were too distraught to speak.

Coleson told the New York Post that the hospital was supposed to give the two-year-old a local analgesic, but instead gave him a general one. Jamaal, who would have celebrated his second birthday next month, was said to have "woken up and called for his mother, and then went critical."

Jamaal never regained consciousness and was declared dead at 8.35pm.

Coleson, who lives in Atlanta, told the Post, "I want to know what happened. He was so sweet and energetic and so happy - a very happy child. I am very upset and I am glad I am a couple of hundred miles away. I have time to calm down and say my prayers."

The family are demanding answers and want to know what went wrong. The hospital said in a statement:
We extend heartfelt condolences to the family of the young patient in question. This is a devastating event for his family as well as for the staff at Beth Israel who tried to save his life. We immediately notified the Medical Examiner's Office and requested that they accept this case for further review, which they have. We also are in the process of reporting this case as an unexpected death to the NYS Department of Health.
Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the ME, confirmed an autopsy was conducted yesterday to determine the cause of death, the results of which have yet to be released.

Jamaal's parents were to be married next year. Coleson said, "We just don't understand what happened. Now my mother is out buying a suit for the funeral (instead of the wedding)."

Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan where Jamaal Coleson died while undergoing circumcision.


Angry relatives report to the New York Post that they have refused the East Side Medical Center's offer to pay or Jamaal's funeral. "I'd rather have him back. I wish there was a way to clone him. We miss him so much," said Jabbar Coleson, uncle of Jamaal.

A spokeswoman for Beth Israel Medical Center said she was unaware of any offer.

The autopsy performed Wednesday on the toddler was "inconclusive," said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the city Medical Examiner's Office.

When performed, genital cutting on male babies and children in the United States is executed with general anesthesia if the baby is over 6 months of age, or 10 pounds in weight. Local anesthesia, while not used in the majority of circumcision surgeries performed on U.S. newborns, is exclusively used on young or light weight babies. This seems to be a carry over practice based in mythology in the U.S. from the decades when babies were said to be born "without the ability to feel pain." Today, it is common practice in the U.S. to not use anesthesia of any kind when cutting a newborn baby boy (although this is against the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics), or to use local anesthesia in the first weeks or months post-birth, and general anesthesia when circumcision surgery is performed later.

The family, however, has accused the hospital of giving Jamaal general anesthesia when they expected him to only receive a local analgesic for the 30-minute amputative surgery of his prepuce organ.

"He started to tell his mommy he wasn't feeling well. It took them four hours to get him into surgery. Then they couldn't find the doctor," Coleson said.

The hospital reports they have turned over all information to the New York state Department of Health.

Related Reading:

New York Post article on the tragic death of Jamaal Coleson Jr. can be read here.

Death From Circumcision

Circumcision Information Resource Pages - Death

Doctors Opposing Circumcision - Statement

Circumstitions - Complications

NOHARMM - Complicaitons Incidence

Cut vs. Intact Outcome Statistics

National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers 2010 newsletter

Partial list of those who've died from circumcision

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

Baker RL. Newborn male circumcision: needless and dangerous. Sexual Medicine Today. 1979;3(11):35-36.

Related News Briefs:

Baby Dies in South Dakota

New York Baby Dies

Baby Dies After Brit

Baby Dies After Circumcision Surgery Blood Loss and Heart Failure

More newborn baby boys die from circumcision surgery each year in the United States than from choking, from auto accidents, from suffocation, from SIDS, from sleep positioners and from (the newly banned) drop-side cribs.


Doctors Re-examine Circumcision

Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy

Circumcision: The Painful Dilemma

Circumcision: A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery

Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision

Circumcision: What Every Parent Should Know

Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America

Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma

Circumcision: The Rest of the Story

Circumcision Exposed: Rethinking a Medical and Cultural Tradition

40 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Respect His Birthright and Keep Your Son Whole

Children's Genitals Under the Knife

Additional books published on circumcision linked and available here.

Additional information on the prepuce organ ("foreskin" or "clitoral hood"), intact care, and circumcision found at Are You Fully Informed?  


HIV/AIDS Rates Continue to Climb in Africa

By Flavia Lanyero
The Daily Monitor, Uganda, Africa.

A new report by PANOS Eastern Africa has shown that new HIV/Aids messages meant to reduce the prevalence of the disease are instead facilitating its spread as they have created false impressions, especially with regard to multiple concurrent partnerships and male circumcision. PANOS is a network of institutions the world over that carries out research and documentation of development information in marginalised communities.

The report, titled, Communication Challenges in HIV Prevention: Multiple Concurrent Partnerships and Medical Male Circumcision, shows that majority of rural population believed that male circumcision gives a complete protection to HIV/Aids, while more than 88% did not exactly know what "the sexual network" was.

The report also notes that most of the HIV/Aids messages are urban based with little or no translation for the rural people. In addition, younger people are no longer scared of the HIV pandemic because it is no longer as scary as it used to be. These communications include the "Be a Man!" campaign, "Go Together - Know Together," "Go Red!" and the "Fidelity" campaigns.

"Current Multiple Concurrent Partnership (MCP) policies, programs and communication initiatives in Uganda are not addressing the social, cultural and economic issues that underline why people engage in MCP. Future attempts should incorporate an analysis of the social drivers of HIV," the report released last month reads in part.

Speaking at the launch of the report in Kampala, the Director PANOS Eastern Africa, Peter Okubal, said the report was prompted by the increasing number of infections every year. Last year alone, 120,000 new infections were recorded. One of the lead researchers, Daudi Ochieng, from the Uganda Health Marketing Group, said that the messages have lost authority and have become cliché. "People are tired of the same old messages, the campaigns are vague and boring, there is nothing shocking about them, and they lack coherence as everyone gives a different message," Mr Ochieng said.

Also, communication about HIV has become complacent in the Ministry of Health (MOH). "The role of MOH in educating people about HIV transmission seems to have ended with the introduction of ARVS [anti-retroviral drugs]. Once these drugs were introduced, even the international donors shifted from financially helping institutions like Aids Information Centre, and are now funding those offering ARVS, and more recently, circumcision," a respondent said.

Related Research and Reading:

Dr. Dean Edell Discusses Africa, AIDS, and Circumcision

Doctors Reject Circumcision as HIV Prevention 

HIV Increases in Africa Where Men Circumcised

African HIV/Circumcision Study Ends Early: Too many women becoming infected

African Healer Sees Higher HIV Rates, Lower Condom Use After Circumcision 

Malawi rules out circumcision as AIDS-prevention: No evidence that it works

The Nuts and Bolts of HIV in the USA and why Circumcision Won't Protect Men

Circumcision is Not a Cure-all for AIDS

Position Statement on the use of Male Circumcision to Limit HIV Infection

The Truth About Circumcision and HIV

Circumcision: Already Illegal?

Here we go again: New York Times publishes headline on HIV and Circumcision

FGM/MGM: Similar Attitudes and Misperceptions

Male and Female Circumcision

The Cut: FGM in Africa

History of Female Circumcision in the U.S.

Circumcision and HIV: Public Health Policy Site


What Doulas Do

By Katie Henderson © 2011        
Read more from at SAHM I Am

Right after, "What is a doula?" the question I am next asked most often is, "What does a doula do?"

In larger cities doulas are much more common and in-demand. But living in a small town and trying to develop a practice has presented unique challenges. Too few people have actually ever heard the word doula so it's difficult to convince people that they really need something they've never heard of and know nothing about.

A doula's role is unique to each mother she works for, as each mother has different needs for each pregnancy.

Much of a doula's job is to offer education and guidance. Pregnancy and labor often present a mother with many different decisions. Making a decision with the confidence that it's right for you and your baby can be difficult if you don't understand all the nuances of each option. A doula is well educated and can explain every option and help a mother make the decision that falls best in line with the mother's own birth plan.

Most often, doulas are called on to act as comforters. Doulas are trained in many different methods of drug-free pain management. You may be surprised to know how small things, like patterned breathing and guided visualization, can help manage pain. But so much of the comfort a doula offers is emotional. Birth is such a personal and transcendent experience for a woman. It can take her through the complete range of human emotions in a very short amount of time. Having continual support from an experienced woman is priceless! It offers the freedom to scream if you need to scream, laugh if you need to laugh, or cry if you need to cry. A doula is not there to hamper your emotions. She is there to allow you to experience them fully with love and understanding.

In many ways a doula is your cheerleader. Often, she will gently remind you that your body is made to birth your baby. That you can give birth. And to celebrate with you as you get through each contraction. Unlike a doctor or nurse, your doula is with you 100% of the time (except for brief bathroom breaks). She may suggest different positions or actions to help you get through when labor becomes particularly difficult. Unlike a doctor or nurse who may not support your wishes or respect your birth plan, a doula is always on your side!

Your doula will also help you to get off on the best possible start with breastfeeding your baby. Doulas are trained in breastfeeding support and can offer valuable advice and insight. Unfortunately, much of the art of breastfeeding has been lost from everyday North American society. And the medical model of childbirth doesn't usually provide adequate information or support.

Doulas are constantly seeking to expand on their practices and a lot of doulas will offer a bevy of other services outside of those previously mentioned. Miscellaneous services a doula may offer include (but are not limited to):

Placenta Encapsulation - If you so choose, your placenta can be saved. A professional trained in placenta encapsulation will dry your placenta and grind it up, add herbs, and put it into pill form for mom to take. Placentophagy (the consumption of the placenta) has scores of benefits for new mothers.

Acupressure/Massage - Activating certain pressure points has shown to be effective in relieving many difficulties during pregnancy. And we all know that massage can be very healing and relaxing.

Babywearing - Your doula might have received special training in babywearing education. Babywearing is as old as humanity and an extremely beneficial practice that cultivates healthy bonding between parent and baby.

TENS Machine - Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation unit is a machine that has electrical diodes that are applied to areas where mom is experiencing discomfort, and blocks those pain signals. Specialized training is required to use this device.

Blessingway Ceremony - A blessingway is a mother-centered birth celebration. Typically a Blessingway is very spiritual and is tailored to the mother's individual spiritual beliefs. Doulas who perform Blessingways will guide a mother's guests through ceremonies meant to bless the woman on her way to becoming a mother by honoring her strength, adorning her body (i.e brushing her hair, decorating her belly, washing her feet etc.) and offering small gifts, prayers and positive thoughts.

Aromatherapy - The use of essential oils in different fragrances to relax the mother and ease discomfort.

These are just a few examples of the many services a doula may offer. When interviewing a potential doula be sure to ask what extra services she offers, and select a doula who fits well with your needs and wishes. Extra services may cost more, but are well worth it.

Even if your doula doesn't offer any services outside of the standard model of practice, there are many benefits to having a doula present for your birth.

Studies show that labor with a doula is actually shorter than labor without (a whopping 90 minutes shorter on average!!) Typically when I ask a potential client what her ideal birth would be, one of the most common words used is "short." A shorter labor is ideal for many reasons and labor that is an entire hour and a half shorter than average could mean the difference between a drug free labor and using chemical pain management that can cascade into many different medical interventions most women wish to avoid.

Laboring with a doula often leads to less labor augmentation measures such as pitocin. Pitocin is synthetic oxytocin (the "love hormone" that starts labor). It's often administered to speed labor along. Unfortunately an artificial labor of pitocin is much more difficult and painful than a physiological labor with natural labor hormones, and this augmentation can cause your baby to go into distress.

Having a doula present for your labor can also drastically reduce the odds that you will require the aid of forceps or vaccuum extraction. These methods of removal are undesireable as they can potentially cause lasting injuries to your baby. Even if administered safely, they can lead to a baby born with an intense migraine. This will often inhibit a baby's desire to initiate breastfeeding, and create bruises and sore spots on baby's tender little head.

Overall, having a doula present for your labor simply makes the experience better. The way you remember an experience as life changing as birth, is just as important as the experience itself. For a client to look back on her labor with fondness and satisfaction is a doulas goal. A mother can go against every aspect of her birth plan - but as long as she can look back and be happy with what she's accomplished, a doula has done her job correctly.

What a doula doesn't do...

There are so many things a doula contributes to childbirth, but there are also clear cut things a doula does not do.

A doula does not replace a spouse or partner in labor. It's true that a woman whose spouse or partner is no longer present in her life, or cannot be in attendance for the birth, can greatly benefit from the presence of a doula. However, a doula is not there to get in between the mother and her partner. In fact, a doula encourages the partner to be an active participant in the birth. For this reason a doula is not only greatly appreciated by the mother, but also by her partner.

A doula is not a medical professional. A doula cannot prescribe or administer any medications or perform any medical procedures. She may recommend home remedies for common problems, but it's merely on an advisory basis. She offers non-medical support only.

A doula does not make decisions for a mother, nor does she offer or deny consent for any procedures on the mother's behalf. For example, if your doctor offers an epidural, even if that is against a mother's birth plan, a doula only reminds the mother that it runs counter to her desired birth plan. She does not give the doctor a "yes" or "no" response. Sometimes it can be difficult to stand up to a doctor and refuse consent for a procedure that you don't want when everyone around you is pressuring you to "just do it," but a doula only support your decision, and your wishes in the midst of it all. She is your advocate, and may call for a "time out" so that you have time to think without others pressuring you and be able to make up your own mind in solitude.

There are so many nuances of a doula's role in childbirth - to address them all would fill entire volumes! It is my hope that you come away from this article with a solid place to start in your understanding of what a doula contributes to labor and birth.


Katherine Henderson is a wife, and mother to one, in Ardmore, OK. She is currently working toward her Birth Doula Certification through DONA International. Read more from Henderson at SAHM I Am.


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