The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released its new Technical Report and Policy Statement on male circumcision, concluding that current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks. The technical report is based on the scrutiny of a large number of complex scientific articles. Therefore, while striving for objectivity, the conclusions drawn by the 8 task force members reflect what these individual physicians perceived as trustworthy evidence. Seen from the outside, cultural bias reflecting the normality of nontherapeutic male circumcision in the United States seems obvious, and the report’s conclusions are different from those reached by physicians in other parts of the Western world, including Europe, Canada, and Australia. In this commentary, a different view is presented by non–US-based physicians and representatives of general medical associations and societies for pediatrics, pediatric surgery, and pediatric urology in Northern Europe. To these authors, only 1 of the arguments put forward by the American Academy of Pediatrics has some theoretical relevance in relation to infant male circumcision; namely, the possible protection against urinary tract infections in infant boys, which can easily be treated with antibiotics without tissue loss. The other claimed health benefits, including protection against HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts, and penile cancer, are questionable, weak, and likely to have little public health relevance in a Western context, and they do not represent compelling reasons for surgery before boys are old enough to decide for themselves.
Cultural Bias in the AAP’s 2012 Technical Report and Policy Statement on Male Circumcision
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: Dr MacDonald declares World Health Organization advisor and consultant work on vaccines and vaccine safety; the other authors have indicated they have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.
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Morten Frisch, Yves Aigrain, Vidmantas Barauskas, Ragnar Bjarnason, Su-Anna Boddy, Piotr Czauderna, Robert P.E. de Gier, Tom P.V.M. de Jong, Günter Fasching, Willem Fetter, Manfred Gahr, Christian Graugaard, Gorm Greisen, Anna Gunnarsdottir, Wolfram Hartmann, Petr Havranek, Rowena Hitchcock, Simon Huddart, Staffan Janson, Poul Jaszczak, Christoph Kupferschmid, Tuija Lahdes-Vasama, Harry Lindahl, Noni MacDonald, Trond Markestad, Matis Märtson, Solveig Marianne Nordhov, Heikki Pälve, Aigars Petersons, Feargal Quinn, Niels Qvist, Thrainn Rosmundsson, Harri Saxen, Olle Söder, Maximilian Stehr, Volker C.H. von Loewenich, Johan Wallander, Rene Wijnen; Cultural Bias in the AAP’s 2012 Technical Report and Policy Statement on Male Circumcision. Pediatrics April 2013; 131 (4): 796–800. 10.1542/peds.2012-2896
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