Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How many Babies Must Die from Circumcision?

A few days ago, I was reviewing a link on circumcision deaths and was struck again by the chilling, callous comments surrounding the topic of babies who die from this medically unnecessary surgery.

Over and over again, I hear other debaters remark that the estimated 100-200 deaths resulting from amputation of the prepuce on newborn baby boys in America are a “small number” and not something of concern. Here are examples of the comments people have posted to me:

”Even if we doubled that number, it’s still minute.”
”Everyone dies.”
”That’s only like 100 people.”
”Oh, that’s actually really safe.”
”Well, more people die in car crashes.”
”You can’t save everyone.”

Babies die every day. We all die, actually. That’s just a fact of life. What is the inherent issue with circumcision deaths? Why should a baby dying from circumcision concern us and anger us?

The current routine procedure performed on baby boys in America is recognized as medically unnecessary surgery. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) acknowledges that any “potential benefits” are not enough to recommend routine circumcision. We’ll look at that link in a minute.

Routine circumcision is the act of taking a healthy, living, functioning baby and performing surgery without medical indication: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXVFFI76ff0

The baby is not sick. The baby does not have a congenital defect. But a part of the body is removed through surgery. And some of these babies die.

In other words, all of those 100-200 deaths were 100% preventable. Every single one of those babies should be alive today. As I’ve quipped before:

“Nothing in life is 100% safe, but medically unnecessary circumcision is 100% preventable.”

These musings led me to post a status on Facebook:

It's interesting how people are so quick to dismiss the 100s of babies who die from forced circumcision annually as a "minute number." Meanwhile in our society, even the hint of a death is enough to recall toys, 30 deaths is enough to recall every single crib ever made, 14* deaths resulted in an entire industry change for babywearing and 77* choking deaths resulted in the AAP asking to change hotdog shapes. But death by circumcision doesn't count?

I wanted to contrast our society’s behavior towards infant deaths caused by other industrial products compared to our behavior towards infant deaths caused by circumcision.

And yes, circumcision in America is an industry, with products and services produced around the practice:


Now, this was an in-your-face status, and many parents courageously shared it on their own profiles, where perhaps their friends and family have never heard of such an issue before. Their interest was piqued. They were curious. They were outraged. And most of all, they wanted to make sure it was true. So here is an introductory list of resources to go with my statement.

First, it is important to note that America does not have any law requiring hospitals and doctors to report injuries and deaths caused by circumcision. They can call it something else, they can obscure it on the death certificate and they can ignore it altogether. So the numbers we do have are from hospitals and doctors who voluntarily share the information or from other heavily reported cases, such as high-profile news articles.

To give you an idea of how the issue can be controversial and lead to confusion, check out this article of a baby who died the morning after hemorrhaging from his circumcision. His death was listed as heart failure:


In previous years, the AAP merely estimated numbers, and often tossed around the figure of 224 deaths annually. The most recent study concluded that 117 deaths occurred annually:


This means that in the neonatal period (the first 28 days after life and the period during which routine circumcision occurs) circumcision causes more deaths than SIDS and car accidents:


Sound shocking? When you think about what routine circumcision is and then look at the fragility of a newborn, it makes sense. Just a tiny amount of blood can put them in a critical state; a tiny bit more and they bleed to death:


Newborns are not stronger than adults and cannot handle this surgery better than adults. For information specifically related to risks newborns face from surgery, please see my article on it here:


Even if babies survive the surgery, we often overlook the numerous complications they experience. This Pediatric Urologist (a medical doctor) who specializes in caring for babies harmed by circumcision speaks out on the topic:

"In my practice, as a pediatric urologist, I manage the complications of neonatal circumcision. For example, in a two year period, I was referred 275 newborns and toddlers with complications of neonatal circumcision. None of these were 'revisions' because of appearance, which I do not do. 45% required corrective surgery (minor as well as major, especially for amputative injury)”


So, we know of at least 117 boys dying yearly, and hundreds more being injured, by a practice that does not have proven medical benefits according to the AAP and a practice that is performed on healthy babies without medical necessity.

Do you see the concern yet?

Why did we recall EVERY dropside crib in America for 30 deaths in the last TEN years, but we don’t recall circumcision, which kills at least 117 babies EVERY year?

”The government outlawed drop-side cribs on Wednesday after the deaths of more than 30 infants and toddlers in the past decade and millions of recalls.”


Why did we recall EVERY infantino pouch sling for 14 deaths in the last TWENTY years, but we don’t recall circumcision, which kills at LEAST 117 babies EVERY year?


Why is the AAP telling the hotdog companies to redesign hotdogs, add warning labels, require mandatory reporting and recall products due to 77 deaths annually when looking at children up to age 14, but all the AAP can say on circumcision, which kills 117 babies annually, is:

”Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.“


Wanna see that again?

The AAP on hotdogs:

"A mandatory system is needed to label foods with appropriate warnings according to their choking risk, to conduct detailed surveillance and investigate food-related choking incidents, and to warn the public about emerging food-related choking hazards,"


The AAP on circumcision:

”Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.“


If the government, AAP and hospitals/doctors won’t get concerned about innocent babies, then it’s time for us, the parents, to get concerned. The deaths stop with us.

Question circumcision.

Question the cost of circumcision.

Protect your children from circumcision.

It’s a non-decision. He was born healthy; keep him that way!

Amanda questioned circumcision after her son was circumcised. She says:
"I did then what I knew how to do at the time. Now that I know better I do better. I love you pumpkin,
and this terrible ordeal in our past has helped me strive to be the best mom I can be today. Circumcision? Never again."

*the original status claimed 17 deaths from baby slings and 117 from hotdogs, but the CPSC article states 14 deaths and the AAP states 77 deaths. I have edited the statement to align with the data.


  1. Thank you for this excellent post!

  2. GREED. Hopitals & insurance cos. Why else would you perform uneccesary surgery on a newborn (esp because they don't have a voice)? Doesn't that go against the hypocratic oath to do no harm! And don't give me the religious excuse people! I honestly do not think God would be ok with circumcision. Thanks for this blog Guggie.

  3. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

    Seems that you only get all indignant about some deaths.

  4. Well, when cutting the genitals of healthy newborn babies causes influenza, then we can all get up in arms about it.

  5. cut it off throw it away and enjoy a nice dry bell end

  6. You posted this on my birthday. I realize that is totally irrelevant, but its kinda like a late birthday gift. lol. My husband is not circumcised and would never have allowed for circumcision before the days when I knew about how horrible it is. And now that I know...... I shake my head and sometimes cry when I see a cut baby. Thanks for posting this.

  7. Brilliant post guggie! I'll be reposting it for sure!!

  8. Thank you very much for post.I like it and hope that you continue posting.I am glad to found your blog.

  9. I want to trow up... Thank God my son is intact, as well as my husband...

  10. They brand men like a herd of cows. “Neonatal post-traumatic stress disorder” — the recurrent American nightmare for boys. If it were women tied down & cut, the Feminists would be howling all over the world. The male genitals are a cheap commodity. There is no argument too absurd for the circumcisers. They insult the appearance of the intact penis, claim that circumcision heals everything from body warts to HIV, and draw an illogical distinction between female & male genitals. Circumcision is the mark of a slave, not a free man. It will be up to merciful mothers to spare their sons this humiliation. With a few exceptions, most circumcised men are too defensive to own up to their loss. Please see "The Circumcision of Benjamin" at http://tinyurl.com/bmh2p2m
    Join the Men of Facebook who speak out against circumcision: http://tinyurl.com/9ur8udg