Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC
JANUARY 21, 2019
It’s a boy! Perhaps you learned the gender of your baby during your pregnancy, or perhaps you’re waiting to be surprised when your baby is born. Regardless of when you learn that your baby is a boy, you will be faced with making a decision about circumcision. Circumcision is the surgical removal of the skin covering the end of the penis (the foreskin). For some families this is done as part of a religious ritual, for many families it is performed by your Obstetrician at the hospital within the first few days of life.
Since the 1960’s the overall rate of circumcision in the U.S. has declined, reaching its lowest rate of 55% in 2007. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics put forth a statement that the benefits of the procedure outweighed the risks, which resulted in an increase in parents choosing the procedure for their newborn sons. There are geographic and ethnic variations, however with lower rates of circumcision among Hispanic and African American males.
In December, 2014 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published draft guidelines recommending that doctors educate males and parents of male newborns about the health benefits of circumcision specifically as relates to reducing the risk of sexually transmitted disease including HIV and human papilloma virus.
If you are currently pregnant, the decision whether or not to circumcise is an important one that both partners should discuss before birth occurs, even if you don’t know the gender of your baby. There may be strong feelings and cultural beliefs in your partner’s family that you were not aware of and may not be in agreement with. It’s much better be aware and to discuss differences and have the time to come to a mutual decision beforehand and so avoid feeling pressured to make a decision during the 48 hours of your postpartum admission. Check out the information on the CDC and AAP websites and then have the conversation with the person who will be your child’s pediatrician as you make this decision.