Medical History of Infant Circumcision Timeline

"Historically, circumcision has been touted to cure whatever disease or fear at the time was on the minds of the population." --Steven Scott

This timeline provides an overview of how doctor's rationalizations/pretexts have changed drastically since the time when they first began promoting it.

Feel free to repost all or part of this timeline on your own site, blog, a forum etc:-)


• 1832 Claude-Francois Lallemand circumcises a patient to cure him from nocturnal seminal emissions(i.e. wet dreams). [Des Pertes Seminales Involontaires. Jeune 1836 (1):463-7; 1839 (2):70-162; 1842 (3):266-7, 280-9]

• 1845 Edward H. Dixon declares that circumcision prevents masturbation. [A Treatise on Diseases of the Sexual Organs. New York: Stringer & Co 1845 pp 158-65]

• 1855 Johnathon Hutchinson publishes his theory that circumcision prevents syphilis. [On the Influence of Circumcision in Preventing Syphilis. Medical Times and Gazette 1855;32(844):542-543]

• 1858 William Acton says "in the unmarried, it[foreskin] additionally excites the sexual desires, which it is our object to repress. In the act of sexual congress, its existence may, I grant, give additional pleasure. ... Man, in a state of nature, and the lower classes of civilized society, receive thorough protection from the foreskin; but to the sensitive, excitable, civilized individual, the prepuce often becomes an additional source of mischief. ... I am fully convinced that the excessive sensibility induced by a narrow foreskin, and the difficulty of withdrawing it, is often the cause of emissions, masturbation, or undue excitement of the sexual desires, which it becomes very difficult for the sufferer to endure." [Functions and disorders of the reproductive organs in youth, in adult age, and in advanced life. London: John Churchill. 1858, pp 23-6]

• 1858 François Lallemand claims he cured a man with "frequent nocturnal pollutions from the age of puberty" by circumcising him.
[A Practical treatise on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of spermatorrhœa. Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lea. 1858, pp 213-4]

• 1860: "In cases of masturbation we must, I believe, break the habit by inducing such a condition of the parts as will cause too much local suffering to allow of the practice being continued. For this purpose, if the prepuce is long, we may circumcise the male patient with present and probably with future advantage; the operation, too, should not be performed under chloroform, so that the pain experienced may be associated with the habit we wish to eradicate." [Athol A.W. Johnson. On An Injurious Habit Occasionally Met with in Infancy and Early Childhood. Lancet 1860;1:344-345.]

• 1865 Nathaniel Heckford claims that masturbation caused chorea(a movement disorder) in a boy and that after circumcision, his health "had greatly improved and that he had been completely cured of his former bad habit[i.e. masturbation]". [Circumcision as a remedial measure in certain cases of epilepsy, chorea etc. Clinical Lectures and Reports by the Medical and Surgical Staff of the London Hospital 1865;2:58-64]

• 1870 Lewis A. Sayre publishes a paper 'proving' that circumcision cures epilepsy. [Circumcision versus epilepsy, etc; Transcription of the New York Pathological Society meeting of June 8, 1870. Medical Record 1870 Jul 15;5(10):231-4]

• 1870 Lewis A. Sayre concludes that adherent foreskin is the cause of "many of the cases of irritable children, with restless sleep, and bad digestion" and also he declares circumcision prevents spinal paralysis. [Partial paralysis from reflex irritation, caused by congenital phimosis and adherent prepuce. Transactions of the American Medical Association 1870;21:205-11]

• 1871 M.J. Moses declares that circumcised Jewish children do not masturbate, "except as the result of association with children whose covered glans[i.e. having foreskin] naturally impelled them to the habit." [The value of circumcision as a hygienic and therapeutic measure. New York Medical Journal 1871 Nov;14(4):368-74]

• 1873 Joseph Bell claims he cured several boys of bed wetting by circumcising them. [Nocturnal incontinence of urine cured by circumcision. Edinburgh Medical Journal 1873 May;1(9):1034]

• 1875 Lewis A. Sayre announces he cured cases of partial paralysis, hernia, bladder infection, and clubfoot, all through circumcision. He also reports on how a girl recovered from idiocy and inability to stand, after he clipped her clitoris and then cauterized the wound. [Spinal anaemia with partial paralysis and want of coordination, from irritation of the genital organs. Transactions of the American Medical Association 1875;26:255-74]

• 1879 H.H. Kane 'discovers' that circumcision cures nocturnal emissions and abdominal neuralgia. [Seminal emissions, abdominal neuralgia: circumcision: cure. Southern Clinic 1879 Oct;2(1):8-11] 

• 1879 Roberts Bartholow concludes that "circumcision is frequently necessary in the treatment of spermatorrhoea[involuntary semen emissions such as in wet dreams]". [Spermatorrhoea: Its Causes, Symptoms, Results and Treatment. New York, William Wood & Co, 1879, p. 91]

• 1880 Roswell Park claims that foreskin is often the cause "of various nervous phenomena but also of masturbation and some forms of hysteria." [Genital Irritation. Chicago Medical Journal & Examiner 1880;41(6):561-570]

• 1881 Maximillian Landesburg announces that circumcision cures eye problems that he believed were caused by masturbation. [On affections of the eye caused by masturbation. Medical Bulletin 1881 Apr;3(4):79-81]

• 1882 Norman H. Chapman states, "if circumcision was more generally practiced, I believe that we would hear far less of the pollutions and indiscretions of youth." [Some of the nervous affections which are liable to follow neglected congenital phimosis in children. Medical News 1882;41:314-317]

• 1882 J.M. McGee concludes circumcision promotes sexual self-restraint "by diminishing the pruriency of the sexual appetite." [Genital Irritation as a Cause of Nervous Disorders. Mississippi 1882 Valley Medical Monthly 2:103–5]

• 1884 W.E. Young claims he cured a baby "troubled with frequent attacks of vomiting and diarrhoea" by circumcising him. [Diarrhoea and nervous symptoms caused by tight prepuce: circumcision: cure. Physician and Surgeon 1884 6:152]

• 1886 William G. Eggleston declares that foreskin causes crossed eyes. [Two cases of reflex paraplegia(one with aphasia) from tape-worm and phimosis. Journal of the American Medical Association 1886 May 8;6(19):511-5]

• 1887 S.S. Adams concludes circumcision is necessary for the "great number of cases[of bedwetting] that will not be cured as long as the redundant prepuce[foreskin] is adherent to the glans". [Circumcision For the Cure of Enuresis. Archives of Pediatrics 1887 Apr;4(4):193-203]

• 1887 Angel Money says, "There can be no doubt of its[masturbation's] injurious effect, and of the proneness to practice it on the part of children with defective brains. Circumcision should always be practiced. It may be necessary to make the genitals so sore by blistering fluids that pain results from attempts to rub the parts." [Treatment of Disease in Children. Philadelphia: P. Blakiston. 1887, p. 421]

• 1888 John Harvey Kellogg in an effort to deter masturbation, promotes circumcision "without an anaesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment". and "A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment. In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement." (John Harvey Kellogg, M.D., "Treatment for Self-Abuse and its Effects," Plain Fact for Old and Young. Burlington, Iowa: F. Segner & Co. (1888). P. 295)

• 1890 William D. Gentry declares that circumcision cures blindness, deafness and dumbness. He states that foreskin is often the cause of "stunted growth, unhealthy 'old man' look, nervous derangement of any kind such as incontinence of urine, sleeplessness, chorea, spasmodic neuralgia, neurasthenia or nervous prostration, recurring convulsions, epilepsy, defective articulation, squinting, jactitations, paralysis, locomotor ataxy, inco-ordination, and similiar troubles". [Nervous derangements produced by sexual irregularities in boys. Medical Current 1890 Jul;6(7):268-74] 

• 1890 Johnathan Hutchinson declares that foreskin "constitutes a harbour for filth, and is a constant source of irritation. It conduces to masturbation, and adds to the difficulties of sexual continence". [A plea for circumcision. Archives of Surgery 1890;2:15]

• 1891 In his book, "The History of Circumcision," snipping crusader Dr. Peter Remondino wrote: "for skin-transplanting, there is nothing superior to the prepuce of a boy." Read more here.

• 1891 P.C. Remondino claims for a particular case, that if circumcision had not been done, "the expressionless, listless infant would have grown, in time, into a masturbating, feeble-minded, idiotic creature, as many others, so situated, have done before it". [History of Circumcision, Philadelphia, F. Davis, (1891) p. 269]

• 1891 Jefferson C. Crossland states that after circumcsion the "covering of the glans becomes dry, hard, less liable to excoriation and inflammation, and less pervious to venereal viruses. The sensitivity of the glans is diminished, but not sufficiently to interfere with the copulative function of the organ or to constitute an objection". [The hygiene of circumcision, New York Medical Journal 1891;53:484-5]

• 1891 Johnathan Hutchinson states that circumcision can "often accomplish much, both in breaking the habit[masturbation] as an immediate result, and in diminishing the temptation to it subsequently." [On circumcision as preventive of masturbation. Archives of Surgery 1891 Jan;2(7):267-9]

• 1882 Romaine J. Curtiss notices that his 9 year old patient with hystero-epilepsy "I still felt the smegma, noted the long prepuce, and the phimosis, and discovered further that whenever the penis was touched, however slightly, an instant erection would follow, of only momentary duration, which could be repeated several times a minute. I was perplexed to know on which end of this cart the horse could be hitched, and "tendon reflex" not then having been invented or discovered as a symptom relating to spinal disease, I was the more unsettled in decision, but decided to make the operation, and remove the source of irritation. On cutting off the prepuce and drawing the stump over the glans I found no smegma as expected. The parts were, in fact, clean. I thought the operation a vexation of spirit, but almost immediately the patient began to improve and in ten days was apparently on the high road to recovery, when he was attacked by facial erysipelas and died." [Nervous Shock as a Therapeutical Agent. St. Louis Medical and Surgical Journal 1882;42(3):240-1]

• 1893 J.A. Hofheimer, after claiming he cured cases of constipation and fecal incontinence by circumcision, recommends amputating the foreskin before symptoms have a chance to appear to "relieve the child of a great source of irritation, and indirectly improve nutrition; changing a fretful, puny baby into a thriving, happy infant." [Phimosis; A Plea for Its Relief by Early Operation. Journal of the American Medical Association 1893;21:890-91]

• 1893 M. Clifford states that "after circumcision the glans penis is always dry ... It loses much of its acute sensitiveness, and all unnatural irritation being guarded against, the mind is not directed towards the sexual organs, and a decided check is put to one of the vices only too commonly practised in early manhood." [Circumcision: Its advantages and how to perform it, London, Churchill, 1893, pp. 6-8]

• 1893 Mark J. Lehman, after claiming that his circumcisions of "puny, ill-nourished baby boys" were in each case "followed by the fretting infant becoming a model of a plump, good baby", urges all physicians "to advocate the removal of this "causi morbi" whether necessary or not". [A plea for circumcision. Medical Review 1893 Jul 22;28(4):64-5]

• 1894 P.C. Remondino calls on the state legislature to pass a law that will enforce "the wholesale circumcision of the Negro race as an efficient remedy in preventing the predisposition to discriminate raping so inherent in that race." [Negro rapes and their social problems. National Popular Review 1894 Jan;4(1):3-6]
 • 1894 H.L. Rosenberry, after noting the long foreskin on a boy with incontinence of urine and faeces, concludes "that the child should be circumcised without delay, as that might account for the dribbling of the urine". [Incontinence of the urine and faeces, cured by circumcision. Medical Record 1894 Aug 11;4(6):173]

• 1885 "...circumcision is undoubtedly the physician's closest friend and ally..." prescribed in 1895 the method of circumcision as it is practiced in hospitals today." and "To obtain the best results one must cut away enough skin and mucous membrane to rather put it on the stretch when erections come later. There must be no play in the skin after the wound has thoroughly healed, but it must fit tightly over the penis, for should there be any play the patient will be found to readily resume his practice not begrudging the time and extra energy required to produce the orgasm... We may not be sure that we have done away with the possibility of masturbation, but we may feel confident that we have limited it to within the danger lines." (E.J. Spratling, MD. Medical Record, Masturbation in the Adult, vol. 48, no. 13, September 28, 1895, pp. 442-443.)

• 1895 Charles E. Fisher states: "In all cases in which male children are suffering nerve tension, confirmed derangement of the digestive organs, restlessness, irritability, and other disturbances of the nervous system, even to chorea, convulsions, and paralysis, or where through nerve waste the nutritive facilities of the general system are below par and structural diseases are occurring, circumcision should be considered as among the lines of treatment to be pursued."<br>
_______In the same chapter on circumcision he goes on to say: In the opposite sex the clitoris is often firmly bound down by an adherent hood; numerous reflexes arising therefrom. ... As children of the weaker sex grow their more delicate nervous systems begin to show the effect of genital irritations, and many a case of chorea, confirmed headache, nervous jacitations, paralytic weakness, unusual irritability, melancholia or other abnormal state of the nervous system long remains uncured because of failure to make care examinations of the condition of the genitalia and relieve irritations and adhesions at this site."
_______He goes on to summarize well doctors' obsessive focus on children's genitalia: "No matter how serious the constitutional defect, no matter how remotely removed from the sexual organs, no matter how unnatural and unreasonable it may seem to look to the genital system for the etiological factor that is operating to rack the sympathetic nervous system, and thus disturb the harmony of the vital organs, impair the health and even destroy the life of the individual, attention should always be given to this part of the human anatomy".
[A Hand-Book On the Diseases of Children and Their Homeopathic Treatment. Chicago: Medical Century Co., 1895 p. 875-8]

• 1898 E.J. Spratling states: "In all cases [of masturbation], circumcision is undoubtedly the physician's closest friend and ally [...] Those cases in which the glans presents a moist, semi-oily appearance, with papillae strikingly developed about the corona, long thickened foreskin, pliant and giving, large and often tortuous dorsal veins, go to make up a picture that is exceedingly tempting to the surgeon's scissors. [...] To obtain the best results one must cut away enough skin and mucous membrane to rather put it on the stretch when erections come later. There must be no play in the skin after the wound has thoroughly healed, but it must fit tightly over the penis for should there be any play the patient will be found to readily resume his practice, not begrudging the time and extra energy required to produce the orgasm." [Masturbation in the Adult, Medical Record, vol. 24 (1895): pp. 442-443]

• 1898 T. Scott McFarland says he has "circumcised as many girls as boys, and always with happy results." [Circumcision of girls. Journal of Orificial Surgery, 1898 Jul;7:31-33]

• 1900 Johnathan Hutchinson advises circumcision as way to decrease the pleasure of sex, and hence to discourage sexual immorality. [The advantages of circumcision. The Polyclinic 1900 Sep;3(9):129-31]

• 1901 Ernest G. Mark notes that the "pleasurable sensations that are elicited from the extremely sensitive" inner lining of the foreskin may encourage a child to masturbate, which is why he recommends circumcision since it "lessens the sensitiveness of the organ". [Circumcision. American Practitioner and News 1901 Feb 15;31(4):122-6]

• 1902 Roswell Park publishes paper 'proving' that foreskin causes epilepsy and that circumcision cures it. [The surgical treatment of epilepsy. American Medicine 1902 Nov 22;4(21):807-9]

• 1903 "Self abuse [masturbation] lays the foundation for consumption, paralysis and heart disease. It weakens the memory, makes a boy careless, negligent and listless. It even makes many lose their minds; others, when grown, commit suicide.... Don't think it does no harm to your boy because he does not suffer now, for the effects of this vice come on so slowly that the victim is often very near death before you realize that he has done himself harm. It is worthy of note that many eminent physicians now advocate the custom of circumcision..." (Mary R. Melendy, MD, The Ideal Woman - For Maidens, Wives and Mothers, 1903.)

• 1905 James W. Geist concludes with this advice to other doctors: "In your cases of obscure symptoms in boy babies, always look to the prepuce[foreskin] and if you find the point of trouble here, cut it off".
[Circumcision. Transactions of the Luzerne County Medical Society 1905 Sep 20;13:200-9]

• 1914 Abraham L. Wolbarst claims that circumcision prevents tuberculosis and demands the compulsory circumcision of all children in America. [Universal circumcision as a sanitary measure. Journal of the American Medical Association 1914 Jan 10;62(2):92-7]

• 1915 Benjamin E. Dawson says that since the clitoral hood is the source of many neuroses, female circumcision is necessary. [Circumcision in the Female: Its Necessity and How to Perform It. American Journal of Clinical Medicine, 1915 Jun;22(6):520-523]

• 1918 Belle Eskridge concludes circumcision will relieve one of the greatest causes of masturbation in girls. [Why not circumcise the girl as well as the boy?, Texas State Journal of Medicine, 1918 May;14:17-19]

• 1926 Abraham L. Wolbarst claims that circumcision prevents penile cancer. [Is circumcision a prophylactic against penis cancer? Cancer 1926 Jul;3(4):301-10]

• 1930 Norton Henry Bare claims that he has cured a boy of epilepsy by circumcising him. [Surgical treatment of epilepsy with report of case. The China Medical Journal 1930 Nov;4(11):1109-13]

• 1934 Aaron Goldstein and Hiram S. Yellen invent and mass market the Gomco clamp which makes it easier for doctors to cut off even more skin than in traditional circumcisions. [Bloodless circumcision of the newborn. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, July 1935;30(1):146-7]

• 1935 R.W. Cockshut demands that all boys be circumcised in order to desensitize the penis and promote chastity. [Circumcision. British Medical Journal 1935 Oct 19;2(3902):764]

• 1941 Allan F. Guttmacher promotes mass circumcision as a means of blunting male sexual sensitivity. He also spreads the false claim that a baby's foreskin must be forcibly retracted and scrubbed daily. [Should the baby be circumcised? Parents Magazine 1941 Sept;16(9):26,76-8]

• 1942 Abraham Ravich claims that circumcision prevents prostate cancer. [The relationship of circumcision to cancer of the prostate. Journal of Urology 1942 Sep;48(3):298-9]

• 1949 Eugene H. Hand declares that circumcision prevents venereal disease and cancer of the tongue. [Circumcision and venereal disease. Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology 1949 Sep;60(3):341-6]

• 1949 Douglas Gairdner points out that the previous years cases of infant circumcision deaths were not necessary given the lack of medical justification for circumcision. (Note: This paper helped encourage the National Health Service to drop coverage for infant circumcision which led to the practical elimination of non- religious circumcision in the United Kingdom.) [The fate of the foreskin. British Medical Journal 1949 2:1433-7]

• 1951 Abraham Ravich invents claims that circumcision prevents cervical cancer in women. [Prophylaxis of cancer of the prostate, penis, and cervix by circumcision. New York State Journal of Medicine 1951 Jun;51(12):1519-20]

• 1953 R.L. Miller and D.C. Snyder unleash their plans to circumcise all male babies immediately after birth while still in the delivery room to prevent masturbation and provide "immunity to nearly all physical and mental illness." [Immediate circumcision of the newborn male. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 1953, Jan;6(1):1-11]

• 1954 Ernest L. Wydner claims that male circumcision prevents cervical cancer in women. [A study of environmental factors of carcinoma of the cervix. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 1954 Oct;68(4):1016-52]

• 1956 Raymond Creelman invents the Circumstraint which straps down and immobilizes the baby's arms and legs. [USPTO patent number RE24,377]

• 1958 C.F. McDonald says "the same reasons that apply for the circumcision of males are generally valid when considered for the female." [Circumcision of the female. General Practitioner 1958 Sep;18(3):98-99]

• 1959 W.G. Rathmann finds that among the many benefits of female circumcision is that it will make the clitoris easier for the husband to find. [Female Circumcision: Indications and a New Technique. General Practitioner 1959 Sep;20(9):115-120]

• 1966 Masters and Johnson claim that there is no difference in sensitivity between penises with and without foreskin. (Note: Their work helps propagate the medical dogma that circumcision has no effect on sexuality go practically unquestioned for nearly the next four decades.) [Human Sexual Response, Boston, Ma: Little Brown & Co, 1966]

• 1969 Morris Fishbein calls for circumcision to prevent nervousness and of course also masturbation. [Sex hygiene. Modern Home Medical Adviser. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co: 1969 pp 90, 119]

• 1971 Abraham Ravich claims that circumcision prevents cancer of the bladder and the rectum. [Viral carcinogenesis in venereally susceptible organs. Cancer 1971 Jun;27(6)1493-6]

• 1971 The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn issues a warning to the Nation that, "There are no valid medical indications for circumcision in the neonatal period." [Committee on Fetus and Newborn Issues. Circumcision. Hospital Care of Newborn Infants 5th Edition. Evanston, Ill: American Academy of Pediatrics; 1971 p 110]

• 1973 R. Dagher, Melvin Selzer, and Jack Lapides declare that anyone who disagrees with their agenda to impose mass circumcision on America is deluded. [Carcinoma of the penis and the anti-circumcision crusade. Journal of Urology 1973 Jul;110(1):79-80]

• 1975 The American Academy of Pediatrics Task force on Circumcision declares, "There are no medical indications for routine circumcisions and the procedure cannot be considered an essential component of health care." [Report on the ad hoc task force on circumcision. Pediatrics 1975;56:610-1]

• 1976 Benjamin Spock, after recommending circumcision for thirty years, revises his best-selling parenting book: "I strongly recommend leaving the foreskin alone. Parents should insist on convincing reasons for circumcision — and there are no convincing reasons that I know of." [Baby and Child Care, New York, E P Dutten, 1946-76]

• 1985 Thomas E. Wiswell claims that circumcision prevents urinary tract infections. [Decreased incidence of urinary tract infections in circumcised male infants. Pediatrics 1985 May;75(5):901-3]

• 1986 Aaron J. Fink claims that circumcision prevents AIDS. [A possible explanation for heterosexual male infection with AIDS. New England Journal of Medicine 1986 Oct 30;31(18):1167]

• 1988 Aaron J. Fink invents the falsehood that circumcision prevents neonatal group B streptococcal disease. [Is hygiene enough? Circumcision as a possible strategy to prevent group B streptococcal disease. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1988 Aug;159 (2):534-5]

• 1989 Under the direction of Edgar J. Schoen, the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision declares circumcision is necessary. [Report of the Task Force on Circumcision. Pediatrics 1989 Aug;84(2):388-91]

• 1991 Edgar J. Schoen tries and fails to convince European countries to institute mass circumcision. [Is it time for Europe to reconsider newborn circumcision? Acta Paediatrica Scandanavian 1991 May;8(5)573-7]

• 1991 Aaron J. Fink declares mass circumcision is necessary to prevent sand from getting into the soldiers' foreskins. [Circumcision and sand. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 1991 Nov;84(11):696]

• 1996 J.R. Taylor finds that the average amount of amputated foreskin was nearly half of the total penile skin. [The prepuce: Specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision. British Journal of Urology 1996 Feb;77:291-5]

• 1997 Edgar J. Schoen tries and fails once again to convince European countries to institute mass circumcision. [Benefits of newborn circumcision: Is Europe ignoring the medical evidence? Archives of Diseases of Childhood 1997 Sep;7(3):258-60]

• 1997 Janice Lander discovers that circumcision without anesthesia is traumatic for babies. (Note: Before this, almost all infant circumcisions were done without anesthetic due to the prevalent belief among circumcisers that babies are not capable of feeling significant pain and if they could it doesn't matter since they won't be able to remember it.) [Comparison of ring block, dorsal penile nerve block, and topical anesthesia for neonatal circumcision. Journal of the American Medical Association 1997 Dec;274(24):2157-2162]

• 1998 Howard Stang, inventor of an upright circumcision restraint fails to mention this conflict of interest in his article promoting infant circumcision. [Patent #5,160,185, Infant support and restraint system 1992] [Circumcision Practice Patterns in the United States, Pediatrics, 1998 Jun;101(6):E5]

• 1999 J. R. Taylor, after studying the foreskin's specialized innervation, concludes that it is the "primary erogenous tissue necessary for normal sexual function." [The prepuce. British Journal of Urology 1999 Jan;83(1):34-44]

• 1999 The American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision, after reviewing 40 years worth of medical studies, concluded that the "potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision... are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision." This report is also the first time the AAP has acknowledged(after decades of doctors mindlessly repeating the belief that babies don't feel significant pain) that circumcision without anesthesia is traumatic and if circumcision is to be done, anesthesia should be used. Here are some highlights from the report:
_______Role of Hygiene: "there is little evidence to affirm the association between circumcision status and optimum penile hygiene."
_______STDs including HIV:"behavioral factors appear to be far more important than circumcision status."
_______Penile Cancer: "in a developed country such as the United States, penile cancer is a rare disease and the risk of penile cancer developing in an uncircumcised man, although increased compared with a circumcised man, is low."
_______Urinary Tract Infections: "breastfeeding was shown to have a threefold protective effect on the incidence of UTI in a sample of uncircumcised infants. However, breastfeeding status has not been evaluated systematically in studies assessing UTI and circumcision status." meaning that the earlier UTIs studies results were confounded. Even if their numbers were accurate, in order to prevent one UTI during the first year of life by circumcising a baby boy, approximately 195 babies who will not get a UTI would need to be circumcised. Also infant girls commonly develop UTIs(in some studies at even higher rates than infant boys) and the standard treatment for them is antibiotics which works just as well for infant boys with UTIs. The AAP concludes this section noting that "the absolute risk of developing a UTI in an uncircumcised male infant is low (at most, ~1%)".
_______Ethics: Here they say while even though cutting off part of your baby's genitalia "is not essential to the child's current well-being" they are perfectly fine with parents and doctors using cultural tradition as justification.
(Note: The report does not mention whether they also think cultural tradition is an acceptable reason to anesthetize infant girls and then cut off their clitoral hoods(which are biologically analogous to foreskin)). [Task Force on Circumcision. Circumcision Policy Statement. Pediatrics 1999;103 (3):686-693]

• 2002 W.K. Nahm extends the storage life of specialized cell cultures derived from "freshly harvested neonatal foreskin tissue." (Note: Since the 1980s, some amputated infant foreskins have been sold without the knowledge of the parents to biomedical companies for research and even use in commercial cosmetic products such as anti-wrinkle creams.) [Sustained ability for fibroblast outgrowth from stored neonatal foreskin. Journal of Dermatology Science. 2002 Feb;28(2):152-8]

• 2003 Edgar J. Schoen steps up pressure on American Academy of Pediatrics to reverse its policy on circumcision, claiming that circumcision prevents AIDS. [It's wise to circumcise: time to change policy. Pediatrics. 2003 Jun;111(6 Pt 1):1490 -1]

• 2005 R.Y. Stallings finds that HIV rates are significantly lower in circumcised women. (Note: There was no WHO call for mass female circumcision to help prevent AIDS) [Female circumcision and HIV infection in Tanzania: for better or for worse? Third International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment. Rio de Janeiro, 25-27 July 2005]

• 2007 R.C. Bailey ends his study early with the conclusion touting circumcision as a 'vaccine' that prevents HIV infection. (Note: This and other similar studies were widely reported throughout the American media.) [Male circumcision for HIV prevention for young men in Kisumu, Kenya. Lancet 2007;369 (9562):643-56]

• 2007 L. de Witte finds that Langerhans cells found in the foreskin are a natural barrier to HIV infection. (Note: This and other similar studies were widely ignored throughout the American media.) [Langerin is a natural barrier to HIV-1 transmission by Langerhans cells. Nature Medicine 2007;(13):367-371]

• 2007 M. Sorrells tests the relative sensitivity of the penis and finds that the foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis and the glans is the least. [Fine touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis. British Journal of Urology International. 2007;99:864-9]

"Circumcision is a solution in search of a problem." --Edward Wallerstein

For a referenced discussion(comprehensible to non-professionals) of the more recent claims within the medical literature that routine infant circumcision is effective in preventing sand accumulation, UTIs, STDs, AIDS, various cancers etc, visit:

Feel free to repost all or part of this timeline elsewhere:-)

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