Circumcision Debate Rages On As Canadian Paediatric Society Updates Stance

CPS now says there is value in circumcision but only under certain circumstances

Debates about the pros and cons of circumcision, and whether or not you or anyone else should do it, end well about zero percent of the time. More than co-sleeping and breast feeding, circumcision is, by far, the most polarizing issue for debate among parents and non-parents alike. There aren’t many people who sit firmly on the fence.

The last time there was an official update to the recommendation regarding circumcision by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) was in 1996. At that point, the CPS no longer recommended routine circumcision. That hasn’t changed. Today, however, the CPS has added that it could actually have benefits, in certain circumstances.

The Canadian Press article on the story that appeared on the CBC this week gave what appeared to be an unbiased review of the new positioning. They quoted both a parent who slapped the good old "mutilation" word on the practice as well as a parent of a child who had to circumcise her 2-year-old due to recurrent infections and the associated risk of cancer that such recurrences bring.  

But the article wasn’t unbiased. It referred to the practice of circumcision as “lopping off the foreskin.” Not so hard to read the reporter’s bias there.

Still though, the news that the society does concede value to the practice is a shift away from his previous position of no official position at all.

"The main thing that has changed between now and then is there is convincing evidence that circumcision can actually prevent HIV," Dr. Joan Robinson, a pediatric infectious disease specialist in Edmonton told CP.

I could have sworn that was old news by now.

“Removal of the foreskin can also reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections in young boys, prevent sexually transmitted pathogens like herpes simplex virus and human papillomavirus in older boys and adult males, while protecting against penile cancer,” the CP article said.

OHIP stopped funding routine circumcision over 20 years ago as it was deemed not medically necessary. CPS has not changed their stance on that and likely won’t. But it no longer denies that there are in fact benefits to the practice of “lopping off the foreskin.”

Still though, the practice for non-religious reasons is a highly personal one. I am a firm believer that people should do what they feel is right for their family and not throw around judgement laden terms to describe an opposing position. Don’t want to circumcise? Don’t. Believe in the practice for cultural or medical reasons? Go for it.

Dr. Jeremy Friedman, associate pediatrician-in-chief at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto told CP that at the end of the day, the most important thing is that parents are confident in their choice and that it is done properly, in a hygienic environment by a trained professional with quality pain relief for the baby.

"It really is a very safe procedure with a very low risk of any real complications," Friedman said.

"I think the tricky part is interpreting how important it is for your son."

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