Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Circumcision Tragedy

I had not been planning to start this blog just yet since I am due to have a baby any day now, but I was to upset by this story to not say something.

I just read about the tragic death of a baby that occurred this morning because he was circumcised.  The poor baby had some heart issues which already made this a risky procedure, but the parents and doctor felt like the risk of bleeding would get worse as the baby grew and decided not to wait until he was bigger.  Sadly, after hours of bleeding, they found that an artery had been nicked during the surgery.  They were able to stop the bleeding, but the baby had lost a lot of blood.  Last night the mother blogged that she had almost killed her baby.  Tragically, he died this morning almost 12 hours after her post.

You don't have to be a parent to find this story extremely heartbreaking.  I personally do not agree with circumcision, nor do I circumcise my children, but that is not what this post is about.  I am not trying to start a debate about whether circumcision is right or not, or whether these parents who now morn the loss of their baby boy did the right thing.  Their loss is too tragic and great and I will not judge them.

What has me so upset and angry is that his official cause of death was ruled to be cardiac arrest.  The doctors have reassured the parents over and over that the circumcision had nothing to do with their son's death.  I understand that they are probably trying to comfort the parents, but this is just not right.

A baby only needs to lose 1 ounce of blood to hemorrhage, and just 2.3 ounces to die as a result of this blood loss.  The stress of this blood loss can result in heart attack, hemorrhage, coma, seizure, stroke, or infection and the resulting deaths often get classified as such without any documentation or recognition that these were the direct result of a circumcision.  That poor baby died from complications resulting from a circumcision, period, not cardiac arrest!

This lack of proper reporting has made it hard to document the actual number of deaths caused each year from circumcisions, but the reported number of newborns that die from circumcisions is said to be 117 baby boys a year.  To put this number in prospective, about 44 newborns die each year from suffocation, 8 from auto accidents, and 115 from SIDS.

So why aren't there huge campaigns to educate parents about the risks of circumcision like there are about SIDS.  How many times have we heard about "back to sleep"?  You can't even leave the hospital without being personally instructed by the nurse to make sure you put baby on their back to prevent SIDS, but there is no warning when they come in to whisk your new baby boy off to be cut.  Many parents aren't even aware that bleeding could be an issue until it is already to late.

I feel very strongly that parents should be educated about the risks involved in having their child circumcised.  Education is the greatest tool in this battle.  I know I hadn't even thought twice about having it done until someone handed me a pamphlet when I was pregnant.  So the next time you have a chance, let someone know that there is no medical benefit to circumcising their son.  That it is purely a cosmetic surgery that has many risks, including death.  A little education can go a long way and you may just say a baby's life and prevent parents from having to deal with the loss of a child.

More articles:

New Study Estimates Neonatal Circumcision Death Rate Higher Than Suffocation and Auto Accidents

Death From Circumcision

National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (aka NOCIRC)