10 Decision of Newborn Parents, Part 2

On Thursday, guest poster Christina began by sharing the first 5 decisions… today she continues on with 5 more decisions for parents of newborns.

Please note: We do our utmost to offer the best and most accurate information that we can, but we also encourage you to take the advice from our site as entertainment and informational purposes only and to always seek the advice of your trusted healthcare professional.

6. Newborn Heel Prick Metabolic Disorders Screen

Babies usually have a single heel prick to draw a drop or two of blood, which is put on filter paper and run through a tandem mass spectrometry test to screen for an average of 20+ inherited metabolic disorders, including PKU, cystic fibrosis & sickle-cell anemia.  Some states recommend two such tests- one immediately after birth and one just before hospital dismissal.

Why might I want this?

Many see the trade off of a single heel prick for the screening of so many diseases –many both potentially fatal AND treatable– as quite worthwhile.  If you know that any of the diseases tested for run in your family, this seems especially a wise choice. (However, different regions test for different diseases, so ask for a full list from your pediatrician or intended place of delivery.)

Why might I want to opt out?

All of the diseases screened for are very rare.  The blood screen’s rate of false positives is relatively high.  Thus many parents receive news their child needs further (more invasive) tests, may be advised to suspend breast-feeding in the meantime, and are understandably concerned, only to be told that the diagnosis was negative.  Additionally, some of the disorders have no treatment or cure, or have variations in forms which may require no intervention (despite showing up as “positive”).  For these reasons, some doctors such as Dr. Robert Mendelsohn (in his book How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor) recommend waiting for signs of a disease before testing or testing specifically for a disease that runs in your family, and certainly asking for further information and testing if a screen comes back positive.

Your options: Assent to the standard heel-prick screen as a precaution (see below for some steps to make it easier), test specifically for diseases for which your family has a history, or wait and see if any problems manifest, then pursue definitive testing.  If one disease in the screen comes back with a positive result, know that many of these are false positives:  continue breast-feeding, pursue further diagnostic testing, and try not to stress about it in the meantime.

**Please note that while the diseases are rare and the vast majority of kids will be fine with no screening, for the few that DO have a disease, an early detection often means the difference between life & death, or normal development & severe (often permanent) disability.  For many metabolic diseases, which can appear with no family history, the symptoms are subtle and likely to be overlooked until potentially irreversible damage has been done.  With this in mind, here are 4 steps you can take to make the screen easier & more accurate for your baby, if you choose to assent to it: 1. wait to do the test, ideally 3 days after birth, so metabolic factors have stabilized, 2. make sure baby is warm –especially warm baby’s foot in your hands for several minutes before prick to ensure that blood flows easily, 3. request that nurse hold baby’s foot until she stops kicking and only then prick, and 4. offer baby something to suck during prick (finger, binky, bottle or breast).

7. Vitamin K Injection

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin we get chiefly from bacteria in our gut (it’s also in leafy green veggies). It is crucial in blood clotting & bone health. Babies are born with lower clotting factors than adults, perhaps because their intestines lack the bacteria which provide most of ours. A Vitamin K deficiency can lead to “vitamin K deficiency bleeding“– severe internal bleeding.

Why might I want this?

Bleeding in infants due to vitamin K deficiency can be severe, leading to hospitalizations, blood transfusions, brain damage and death. While formula is enriched with Vit K, breast-milk tends to be lower in it. Intra-muscular injection (i.e. a shot) of Vitamin K is quite effective in preventing internal bleeding. There are several risk factors for VKDB, including: preterm delivery & difficulty feeding, low birth weight, delivery by forceps or vacuum extraction delivery, prenatal maternal use of certain medicines (including antibiotics, anticoagulants, & anticonvulsants), liver disease, extremely fast, or extremely prolonged labor, particularly during the pushing phase, and delivery by C-section.

Why might I want to opt out?

Many question whether God would design a faulty system– why would all babies be deficient in a vitamin that was also lacking in their natural food? Some feel that it’s preferable to instead supplement the breast-feeding mother’s diet with Vitamin K, both/either through a diet high in leafy greens & probiotics, or a supplement, rather than giving a newborn a painful injection. Colostrum, which precedes milk, is quite high in Vitamin K. An injection is an unnatural means of getting a vitamin that is usually absorbed through the gut wall, and, like all injections, provides an opportunity for contamination to be introduced, as well as potentially toxic preservatives. The amount of Vitamin K injected is also very high: 20,000 times the level present at birth. Lastly, high Vitamin K levels are a cause of jaundice in newborns.

Your options: Choose to have the injection as a precautionary measure, especially if your child had a traumatic birth, if your prenatal diet was low in Vitamin K, or if you took medications tending towards VKDB. Take a non-interventionist approach of a late-pregnancy diet high in leafy greens, delayed cord-clamping, and immediate breastfeeding. Or opt for the oral method of vitamin K supplementation.

Image by jonty.fisher

8. Sleeping Arrangements

Many hospitals now offer the option of “rooming-in,” in which baby & mother are kept together in one room, as well as the former model of nursery care, in which babies are tended by nurses in a separate room. Few hospitals recommend that the baby stay in the nursery throughout the day, though it is always an option if you need a break. Fathers are usually welcome to accompany the baby into the nursery during any screens or tests (and if they aren’t, they can insist upon it!).

Why might you prefer the nursery model?

Many moms (and their spouses!) are exhausted after delivery and will be facing months of sleepless nights tending a newborn. The chance to have someone else changing diapers and keeping an eye out for problems can be a welcome and unique break, especially if you deliver at a hospital friendly to breast-feeding who will bring your baby to you to be fed at the first sign of hunger.

Why might you prefer to “room-in”?

Some new moms don’t want their precious children away from them at any point, especially if their hospital tends to force standard procedures (injections, eye ointment, etc.) on newborns despite parental preferences, or if they are likely to give a hungry baby a pacifier or a bottle of formula. As newborns have very little stomachs (large as a thimble), ounces of formula really sabotage their metabolism & eagerness to nurse (in turn interfering with maternal milk production). Entire nursing relationships have been sabotaged by bottles given before hospital discharge.

Your options: Ask around and find out what hospital policy is regarding bringing babies to moms for feedings or giving them bottles– ask other patients and your doctor/midwife what this hospital’s reputation in this area is like. If it’s parental-preference friendly, you may want to take advantage of the nurses ability to watch over your child during the night (so you and Daddy can both sleep). If, however, the hospital nursery seems a risky place, keep baby with you, perhaps trading off with Daddy or another family member to tend to baby’s non-nutritive needs.

Note that you can begin one way and then switch as needed: I personally began with our daughter in our room, but when it became apparent that my husband & I were too tired after our 45-hour labor to adequately care for her, we gladly surrendered her to the nursery nurses, who faithfully brought her to me for feedings throughout the night and recorded her every diaper on her chart so I’d stay informed (Our hospital is stellar with respect to honoring parental wishes in all areas.).

9. Artificial Nipples (pacifiers or bottles)

Hospital nurses only have 2 arms, just like all of us, and tend to pacify crying babies with a pacifier rather than with cuddles. Some feel that sucking on a pacifier tires a baby out, decreasing their desire to eat. And some babies just plain old spit them out.

Why might you want to allow pacifiers?

Some babies like to suck. It’s a comfort thing– babies have been caught sucking fingers, thumbs, tongues, and hands in utero. As anyone who was a child-hood thumb-sucker knows, it’s hard to break those habits. Some parents would prefer that their baby’s “non-nutritive sucking” needs are met through a paci, which can be detached, washed, and eventually discarded instead of through a body part, which is always around (and often dirty).

Why might you want to avoid artificial nipples?

Some lactation experts warn of nipple confusion; with babies getting into poor latching habits after sucking on a paci or bottle (these require entirely different tongue positions). Many parents would prefer to allow their newborn to suck frequently at the breast, even if only for the first few days, to ensure a good milk supply, as well as to maximize skin-to-skin contact.

What are your options? Allow pacifier use, limit it to times when baby isn’t hungry or your breasts are sore from a feeding, or request that no artificial nipples be used at all. If your baby is too weak to nurse or has a poor latch, you can still use systems other than a bottle –such as a supplemental nursing system (with expressed breast milk or formula), finger-feeding, or a dropper. Here’s a handy trick: latches can usually be “re-set” by simply allowing a baby to suck a finger, which gets the tongue in the correct position for breast-feeding.

Image by [derekmswanson]

10. Time of Discharge

Most hospitals keep mom & baby for 24-48 hours after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. For moms with c-sections, 3 days is the minimum, and for complicated births moms & babies may be kept any number of days.

Why might you want to stay the full recommended 2 days?

State laws were passed in the mid-1990s regarding postpartum “Length of stays” (LOS) out of concern for maternal & infant health. Many health problems (such as a retained placental fragment, for instance) take a few days after birth to manifest themselves. Additionally, many mothers will not be going home to much help, so the rest and care they receive immediately after birth in the hospital can be very welcome.

Why might you want to ask for an early discharge?

Plainly put, even the best hospitals are dirty places— they’re mainly for sick, germy people. In this sense, getting a newborn and recovering mom out of there doesn’t seem a bad idea. Some mothers also find sleeping difficult in a hospital bed, and being woken by nurses every few hours for vitals to be checked can be wearing. Some moms just recover faster in their own beds. Postpartum doulas— hired help specifically trained to care for newborns and their mamas– are far more available these days and can fill in the gap hospital nurses provide. Some midwives do house-calls, and many pediatricians or OBs will allow you to come in for a check-up 3 days post-partum, somewhat negating the need to spend all 48 hours under observation. Studies in California after the LOS laws were passed showed “a significant decline in neonatal readmissions [to hospitals] but not in 1-year mortality.”

Your options: Enjoy the full 2-day hospital stay, or ask for an early discharge if your delivery was uncomplicated and un-medicated, and follow up with a 3-day postpartum checkup for both mama & baby. Consider hiring a postpartum doula or having Grandma stay and care for you once home. You will likely need to get your OB/midwife and pediatrician to put a request for early discharge in writing, ideally in your birth plan.

For Parents of Little Boys: Circumcision

This is such a complicated issue (worthy of a post all its own) that I will only briefly touch on it. American doctors are split down the middle on recommending circumcision or not. The AAP’s official position states:

Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data arenot sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. Incircumstances in which there are potential benefits and risks,yet the procedure is not essential to the child’s current well-being,parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child.

Basically, it’s a preference issue. However, more boys are circumcised in the US than are not, often before leaving the hospital after birth.

Why might you want circumcision?

There do seem to be hygienic benefits to it: fewer yeast & urinary tract infections, lower cancer rates and drastically lower transmission rates of HIV, and STDs (even the female partners of circumcised men are slightly protected). There is a small percentage of men who require circumcision later in life for medical reasons, and circumcisions later in life are far more complicated than in an infant. Babies don’t remember the pain of surgery. Many Christians feel that if God commanded it for generations, it likely has some health benefit to it, just as the dietary laws do. When performed by a mohel (Jewish rabbi specializing in circumcision) on the 8th day, the procedure is very quick (under a minute), usually done in the comfort of your home with your son held in familiar arms and anesthetized in non-invasive ways such as sugar pacifiers, drops of wine, and topical anesthetic cream.

Why might you want to skip this elective surgery?

The hygienic benefits of circumcision can usually be overcome through personal hygiene and a monogamous lifestyle later in life. It’s a painful surgery, even if some form of anesthetic is used. In hospitals, it is probably terrifying for the baby, who is separated from his parents, strapped down, and in considerable pain for 10-20 minutes. As noted above, clotting factors are low in newborns and don’t rise until 5-7 days after birth, reaching their apex at 8 days after birth— surgery before then carries increased risk of hemorrhage. As some Christians have pointed out, modern hospital circumcision is quite different than the OT version in timing, method & environment.

Your options: Have the circumcision in the hospital before discharge (when it’s still covered by insurance), using one of the following methods decided on beforehand: the mogen clamp, the plastibell, or the Gomco clamp. Research each as well as the doctor who will perform the circumcision. Alternatively, wait until the 8th day (as is Jewish custom due to Genesis 17:9-14) for the surgery at the hospital, or hire a mohel to perform the surgery in your home or the hospital, usually using the Jewish shield technique. Or, skip the surgery altogether and add extra emphasis to your son’s personal hygiene.

(As a mom making this decision myself, I must say that, should we choose to circumcise our son, of all the methods the mohel-performed, Jewish shield technique seems the quickest, least painful, traumatic and risky; well worth the extra cost.)

Whew! That’s a lot to process! Better get started making those calls and writing that birth plan! :)

About Christina

Christina is a doula, a former teacher & choir director, a craftsy mostly-stay-at-home mom to E (4) & W (almost 2), nanny to L (2), foster mama to V (6) & A (3), and wife to Ryan. She is passionate about equipping moms to think critically in order to raise healthy children full of faith, music and imagination.

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  1. Christina this is not at you or your article but at some of your readers who commented… I want to add to my earlier comment that I am really really sick of women (not all of the but a lot) who give birth at home slamming those of us who choose to do it in a hospital… with drugs thank you very much. I stay outta the way of your hypno baby tapes and water baths stop hissy fitting over my epidural. Granted I ended up having an emergancy C-section before I went into labor but my previous decision to have meds, in a hospital does not make me less of a woman and neither did my C-section. We all are moms we all brought life into this world the way we felt was safest and best for our families. Stop tearing each other down over it. As I see it choices about where and how to bring your child into the world are just as private as how you made them. We don’t go yelling at people because they got preggo in missionary or cowgirl so stop sticking your nose in if they deliver in a hospital or their livingroom. Both are just as sacred an personal. Sorry Ive spent 10 months of apologizing to random people for my birth choices and obviously I’m kinda done.

  2. So the circumcise question is interesting. I had a really hard time with the decision so I talked to my RN mom. She told me that when my brother was born they chose not to circumcise him. 6 years later they had to take him in to have it done because of major infection problems that had caused things to adhere. He is now 22 remembers and is horribly traumatized. My other broth was circumcised at a week old and has none of those problems. Seeing what my brother went through and finally understanding why led to my choice to circumcise my son. My husband held him the whole time and he sucked on sugar water and didn’t cry at all. I know complications happen but for me (and my Jewish inlaws) it made sense. IT IS AND SHOULD BE A VERY PRRSONAL CHOICE! No one makes it wanting to hurt their son or lightly.

  3. Very late to add a comment and I’m pretty sure you have already give birth, but I just wanted to add something that helped us to make the circumcision decision for our son for anyone else who finds this post when looking for this information. We were very much of your inclination with circumcision to start with, especially the “It can’t be that bad if God commanded his people to do it; most his commands make a heck of a lot of health sense, especially for a time without refrigeration” – we were extremely conflicted on the subject until our Christian pediatrician pointed something out. Most the cultures/religions that have an ancient tradition of circumcision are nomadic desert people, it has also apparently been an issue for some intact soldiers in the army in desert conditions to be uncircumcised for one very omnipresent reason. Sand. Sand gets some especially uncomfortable places in an uncircumcised male so it rather makes sense for a desert people to circumcise, thus explaining what would be the practical upshot of God’s command. But for those of us in more temperate climates, sand storms are probably not going to be an issue, negating what was likely the main practical reason.

    We also looked at a worst (slim chance but common enough to be rational to worry about) case scenario view. Not circing worst case scenario: reoccurring UTIs and getting it done later in life, maybe a little locker room teasing. Worst case scenario for getting him circumcised: lifelong pain and sexual disability, or even the death of our precious days old infant. Once we looked at it that way it seemed like a no brainer to us. I’m still far from an intactivist but that worse case scenario exercise was all it took to make up our minds.

  4. Rachel Leal says:

    Excellent article! Very informative and unbiased. I do have some info to add, regarding circumcision though. The number of intact (uncircumcised) boys is actually much LESS now in the U.S. than circumcised boys. The CDC recently did a study and found that the circumcision rates have drastically dropped in our country…from 56% in 2006 to a mere 32.5% in 2009! So actually, only 1 out of every 3 boys is cut now. As less insurance companies and State Medicaid programs are covering the procedure, more people are opting not to put their newborns under the knife. As for the UTI risks, it is true that circumcised boys have a SLIGHTLY lower rate of UTI’s, but both circ’ed and un-circ’ed boys have lower UTI rates than baby girls…and baby girls are simply given antibiotics, rather than having their genitals cut up. As for the HIV rates being lower in circumcised males, that is still up for debate. In Europe, about 99% of men are not circumcised, yet they have roughly the same HIV rates as the U.S. Removal of the foreskin is definitely not the most effective way to guard against HIV….safe sex and monogamy is. Besides, newborn babies are not at risk for a sexually transmitted disease, so why not wait until they are old enough to decide for themselves if they would like a large portion of their genitals cut off or not? When they are older, there is NOT more risk to the procedure. Instead, they can opt for full anesthesia, so that they can comfortably sleep while it is done. They also have the choice between a “tight, medium, or loose” cut when they are older. In addition, they have access to pain medications for their painful recovery afterwards (something newborns obviously don’t have the option of). It makes sense that you should wait until the organ has grown to it’s full size instead of operating on it a few hours or days after birth, when the organ is the smallest and most delicate. And one last thing that MANY people do not realize….if the circumcision is perform as an adult, the surgeon does not have to first rip the fused foreskin from the head of the penis, as what is done on newborns. The foreskin is fused to the head of the penis so tightly for the first few years of life, (in order to keep germs, feces, ect. out and naturally keep the penis clean), that the doctor must first rip that skin away before cutting into it. The pain is supposed to be equivalent to ripping a fingernail from your nail bed. If you wait until adulthood, the man does not have to endure that because his foreskin has already naturally retracted by that point (which, btw, a retracted uncircumcised penis looks the same as a circumcised one, minus all of the scarring) Oh, and true Christians follow the teachings of Jesus, left for us in the New Testament of the Bible, not the practices of the Jews in the Old Testament. There are several scriptures in the New Testament that directly rebuke circumcision. If you circumcise your son in the name of Christianity, then you are forgetting that Christ died on the cross specifically so that we would NOT have to undergo ritualistic sacrifices anymore, because Christ was the ULTIMATE sacrifice. Christians are supposed to baptize, not circumcise. Jesus showed that to declare ourselves as Christians, we should first undergo a spiritual cleansing (baptism), not a physical sacrifice (circumcision).

    • Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your adding of your perspective!

      I will gently push against your exegesis of NT texts regarding circumcision. It is never rebuked– what is rebuked is a reliance on it (or any other ritual, like observing of the dietary laws or Jewish holy feast days) for salvation or “brownie points” with God. The point of the writers who said “circumcision is nothing!” was to say in the strongest words possible (b/c circumcision represented the whole Jewish Covenant– what made them a unique people to God) that NOTHING besides Jesus’ life and death matters.

      Circumcision for the Christian isn’t a religious matter. It’s a hygiene one– so let’s keep the debate in that realm. Christians who do circumcise often reason that if God commanded it for millenia it probably isn’t harmful or torturous when done as He commanded it, though modern circs are often a far cry from the simple quick procedures done on the 8th day in Moses’ day.

      I’d also point out that different methods of circumcision involve differences in how the foreskin is removed, and also how much anesthesia is used. Many mohels report that babies cry more when they are immobilized before the procedure than at the actual moment. A friend who recently had a mohel come circ her son reported that he didn’t cry at all.

  5. I appreciate this article series so much! It really helped guide me in my research and what I needed to be prepared for. So thank you!

    I don’t appreciate the majority of the comments people made here… sad really that such an unbiased tool would be scrutinized so harshly because the writer didn’t prove THEIR point of view to their liking.

    Thank you for stating both sides of the story and, like I said earlier, providing a list of the issues I needed to look into further. As a first-time mom, I have no way of knowing what kind of tests, vaccines, etc my baby will be subject to without lists like this!

    • Glad it helped you!! :) Thanks for the encouragement :)

    • carolyns mom says:

      I’m not worried about “my point of view” i’m worried about false information that could potentially ruin a child’s life- there is a great responsibility when writing blogs like this- and if you are not trained and are going by an assortment of personal anecdotes then really- that can be dangerous. I undestand that a parent whose child was mis-diagnosed would be upset – especially if they lost their milk and had to formula feed- but really it is PEANUTS compared to what life will be like for those who *do* have a disease and the parents don’t do the heel prick test based on some false pseudo medical advice from a mom on the “internet” .

      • carolyns mom says:

        although i have to say i appreciate how after the comments were made she added a * point . Thank you very much. It is important that parents be informed!

      • I’m not sure if you noticed, but we just recently made a few changes to the post to reflect those thoughts, making it more clear how important it can be to get the tests done. We appreciate all the opinions that have been shared, and Christina (the post’s author) came to me and asked if she could go back and change that portion of the post, and I heartily agreed that it was a good idea. I certainly take the responsibility of running a blog like this very seriously!

  6. I’m in the same boat and mindset as Carrie and Nicole Palon.

    Our son was born a healthy 7.5lbs, and was more perfect than I could have ever pictured! He ate well, held his weight, and seemed to be a perfect, happy, healthy baby boy :)

    Austin had a heal poke at 2 days old…no one (including doctors and nurses) had previously mentioned to me that it needed to be done, and it wasn’t explained to me why they were doing it at the time. The nurse just walked in, did the poke, and left the room. I was quite upset over the whole ordeal.

    When Austin was 10 days old, we received the worst call of our lives. “Your son needs to go to Children’s Hospital as soon as you can get there. He has PKU”, said our family doctor. I was in immediate shock. Within 6 hours we arrived at Children’s Hospital, and 10 days later we were back home. With our happy, healthy baby boy.

    As upset and angry as I was with the nurses and doctors for not even mentioning to me about the bloodwork, I cannot imagine having not had it done. That blood work truly saves babies lives each and every year. It is rare, metabolic diseases like PKU that are otherwise undetected until it’s too late.

    I think for any parent or parent to be, the most important thing should be your babies health – and that means having this bloodwork done.

  7. John White says:

    Re: Heel prick test – should be mandatory for all newborns, if it had, my granddaughter would be alive today, instead of passing from Pompe at 10 months old. She was diagnosed at 6 months but did not get enzyme replacement soon enough. She left a deep void in our lives. No previous history in either of her parents families history.

  8. I only read one part of the article and want to say this: the heel prick test saved my baby’s life. My little girl was diagnosed at 4 days old with PKU and our lives were immediately altered. We had never heard of it, had no family history of it, and had we ‘waited for symptoms to appear’ she would already have suffered irreversible brain damage. Because of newborn screening and available treatments, she is a smart, happy, healthy, normal 4 year old. Also, the rate of false positives are actually very low, and the secondary testing after a positive screen is simply another bloodtest: not exactly invasive.

    I know new parents have a lot of choices, and strive to be informed and want to feel in control of the situation – i did too. But honestly, PKU and the other rare disorders that newborn screening identifies is not something you can plan for and often strikes without warning. Had we opted out of newborn screening for Rosie, I would never, ever have been able to forgive myself.

    It’s like wearing a seatbelt. The chances of actually getting in a car accident are remarkably low, given how often you get in a car and drive. But, you wear a seatbelt because in the rare circumstance you are in a serious car accident, that seatbelt is going to save your life. Furthermore, it is required by law: newborn screening should be too.

  9. I’m having a hard time breathing- i’m reading your post about the heel prick and i’m struggling to breathe. There are no reasons not to do the heel prick test- the rate of false positives is very low- and if you do get a positive test you are re tested within 24 hours BEFORE any medication is administered.

    I have no history of illness or disease in my family- my husband’s mother has epilepsy but otherwise we’re healthy- our first two daughters were born healthy and then our third was born looking perfect. She latched on and was a nursing champ. At 7 days old I got a phone call. She had tested positive on the heel prick test for PKU.

    We rushed to the hospital- where we learned that my breastmilk was poisoning her.

    The thing with pku (and other metabolic diseases that the heelprick test tests for- ) is that you don’t see any signs until baby is about 6 months old.

    Your perfectly healthy alert active baby at 6 months old gets a bit sleepy, a bit droopy and over the next few months you watch helplessly as they start to revert back to newborn infant stage. The brain damage is permanent.

    There is no reason not to do the heel prick test within 48 hours of your baby’s birth.

    To say otherwise is best foolish and misinformed

  10. Interesting summary. My recommendation and choice: midwife lead care and homebirth.

  11. Great post I did a lot of research about newborn procedures before we had our daughter but it would have been nice to have something like this all in one place with both the benefits and risks of each procedure.

  12. So, Christina, why did you choose to circumcise your son?

    • We haven’t had our son yet, and haven’t decided either way yet. :) I think my reasons for leaning towards circumcision, as well as the method we will use if we do choose this minor surgery for our son are listed pretty clearly above, though.

      Honestly, long-term I think it matters probably the least of all the decisions listed. I know it’s a hot topic, and there are passionate people on both sides of the decision. How many people go around asking their friends whether they’re circumcised or not as adults, though? I sure couldn’t tell you who is or isn’t among our friends! All over the world the percentage of those circumcised varies widely. Europeans & Canadians tend to not, and think America is weird for still doing it so much, and vice-versa.

      However, a reaction to Hep B or an untreated metabolic disease is life-altering. Even the inability to breastfeed has long-term health consequences greater than that of choosing to either circ or not.

  13. i liked this list until you got to circumcision. i agree with a previous commenter that this shouldn’t even be a decision. however, i recognize that our culture isn’t quite at that place just yet. too bad this was so terribly skewed and misinformed, the rest of the article seemed helpful.

  14. Just wanted to clear up a couple things- the genital cutting rate average in the U.S. is only about 30%, therefore 70% of boys are intact. Also, if you think that having skin on your body inherently causes cancer, STD’s, UTI’s, ect. Than wouldn’t it make more sense to cut the skin off of the gender that has more skin? Intact girls have two more skin folds than intact boys- skin is skin and is the same biologically regardless if it is on a man or a woman. You would think in 2012 that it would be common sense by now if you wouldn’t circumcise your daughter, than you shouldn’t circumcise your son.

    • Gretchen says:

      Seriously? This girl is just writing her opinions. You can have yours, but back up off hers. Geesh! And she gave pros and cons for both…

  15. Every time I read articles and blog posts like this one, my blood boils. Why? Because I had my first two sons circumcised without being fully informed and now that I have fully educated myself, I have such deep regret. I will preface this by saying that it is each parent’s responsibility to educate themselves on all issues relating to their children. However, it’s frustrating to live in a world that tries to display the genital cutting of minors as some sort of “balanced” issue, when it is not. The circumcision summary here is not different from the majority of summaries on the topic. Routine infant circumcision is presented as unnecessary yet with some potential health benefits. Blood boiling :(. Some day, some of these parents are going to find out the truth and feel anger and resentment towards those who presented infant circumcision in such a way.

    Circumcision is a cure looking for a disease. The vast majority of studies on infant circumcision have shown significant risks to the baby, yet those are almost never mentioned. Only the cherry picked ones (and often on adult circumcision, not infant circumcision) are mentioned.

    There’s no mention of adhesions, meatal stenosis, skin bridges, hairy shaft, painful erections, and more. Yet go on any baby forum and you will find countless reports of such conditions. Sadly, sometimes even death.

    Anything can have a benefit. Chopping off my arm can have benefits — reduced risk of breaking my wrist, reduced risk of hang nails, reduced risk of arthritis of the hand, etc. But when you step back and look at the big pictures, the benefit of keeping your arm, far outweighs the benefits of chopping it off.

    Yet, the summaries about infant circumcision never talk about the benefits of the foreskin. Shouldn’t that be the main thing discussed? You want to have elective surgery to remove a part of your newborn’s body yet you presents absolutely ZERO information about that part? The vast majority know nothing about the foreskin and how it functions, yet they choose to put a newborn through elective surgery to cut it off. And blogs like this perpetrate that. Why is there no description of the foreskin and how removing it changes the penis?

    When I found out (after already having my first 2 sons circumcised), I was floored. I was completely shocked. Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why did it never occur to me to find out? Because of the society I live in that views circumcision this way and shoves this type of angle down our throats all the time.

    I found out that the foreskin protects the glans, produces anti-viral secretions and flushes the glans with a built in cleaning mechanism. I found out that the foreskin is adhered to the glans and keeps contaminants out, keeping baby clean and dry in dirty diapers and doesn’t retract until much later in life. I found out that the foreskin is full of specialized nerve endings, more than double what is found in the female clitoris. I found out that the ridged band alone has 7 different types of specialized nerve endings. I found out that the foreskin creates a gliding motion during sex, providing pleasure for man and his partner, initiates deeper, smaller strokes that stimulate a woman’s mons pubis much more. I found out that foreskin and labia work like rings and pistons to keep their natural lubrication inside whereas the circumcised man drags all of the woman’s juices out of her, causing sex to be drying.

    The only way that a parent can make a truly informed decision is if they know all of this information (and more that I didn’t type here). But no, our society presents a lame version of “balance” that fails to mention vital information that anyone would normally want before making a decision to cut something off of their body. Seems like some information about the foreskin would be vital in “why might I opt out” of cutting it of, no? And why do we have to “opt out” of cutting our newborn’s genitals anyhow???? Elective cosmetic surgery should never be “opt out”.


    • Gretchen says:

      Write your own blog. You know what makes my blood boil? People like you who only see one side, at least this girl presented both. I am not even totally for circumcision, but your guys are ridiculous.

      • you are not understanding what’s going on here. in a previous comment you said that everyone is entitled to opinions, which is true. however, opinions are not facts. this article did not present accurate facts whatsoever. on a healthy, normal infant, there are really no pros to circumcision. of course there are outlying scenarios but the facts are heavily against doing so in the average newborn male. and erin, thank you for your bravery in sharing your experience.

  16. I have to echo what a few other people have stated. Please, please, please do not opt out of the heel prick. There is no history of any rare disorder inmy family, no genetic issues, nothing…not even a history of cancer…but my son has a rare metabolic disorder. Until testing began about 7 years ago, most babies died of “SIDS” around the 6 month point. It wasn’t until much later when they realized what was actually happening.

    I almost refused the screening and my son could have died because of it. Instead, he is about to turn two and, with a modified diet & a few extra specialists, he is happy & thriving.

    Also, he is not circumcised. It was a no-brainer for us, the “benefits” are exaggerated & a lot of the current aids research is being debunked (even the US Navy did a recent study that showed no significant differences in HIV rates for circumcised & intact servicemen – much more relevant to the US population, IMO – easily googled). Plus, I’d rather teach my son how to use a condom, give him antibiotics, & teach him how to bathe than cut off part of his penis.