by Paul M. Fleiss, M.D., M.P.H.

Presented at The First International Symposium on Circumcision, Anaheim, California, March 1-2, 1989.

Every newborn infant is special. Amazing is the newborn in that he is born intact with eyes that see, ears that hear, a nose that smells, and skin that feels. The healthy newborn infant has needs to be loved, to be held, to be talked to, to be touched.

      He does not need to have the agonizing pain of part of his body surgically removed without any anesthesia inflicted upon him for non-existing health reasons. He does not need to be circumcised for reasons of religion or social customs or superstition.

      An ancient ignorance has made the care of the newborn's penis quite complicated when it should be quite simple, "Leave it alone" is the commandment to all parents and health workers that should be heard around the world.

      The newborn needs to be appreciated for the amazing being he is and the care of his penis should be: Do not hurt it! Do not amputate it! Do not attempt to retract it! One may wash the entire organ without attempting to pull back or clean the foreskin. One can easily wait until the boy can take care of his own penis.

      The foreskin has a function. It does keep the glans of the penis warm, moist and sensitive. It protects from infection and it keeps the opening of the penis adequate. [i.e., prevents meatal stenosis]

      Complications of "routine" newborn circumcisions are grossly underreported. The medical literature does report the major mutilations, the major hemorrhages and the major infections, however, the many males that are left with a deformed glans or a meatus (opening) too small or an insensitive glans have never been counted. The procedure has many risks even when performed with the skill of the most able surgeon.

      Repeating the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics' 1984 brochure on "Care of the Uncircumcised Male" is good advice to all parents, to all nurses, doctors and health-care workers. LEAVE IT ALONE!

      Let the newborn male take care of his own foreskin when he is able to do it without any trauma or pain. Leave the penis of the newborn infant alone.

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