Research finds benefits of circumcision outweigh risk
Eighty per cent of uncircumcised males will need medical attention relating to their foreskin.
By Livia Gamble
February 09 2017
New research has found evidence in favour of a decision many parents find difficult to make: circumcision.
A study from the University of New South Wales reports 80 per cent of uncircumcised males will need medical attention relating to their foreskin.
As a result, researchers believe the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risk.
Dr Brian Morris, professor emeritus at the University of Sydney and the study’s lead author told AAP: "Over their lifetime more than one in two uncircumcised males will suffer an adverse medical condition caused by their foreskin. But the risk of the procedure is less than one per cent.
Despite this, Better Health Victoria reports less than 20 per cent of boys are being circumcised in Australia.
The new findings, published in the World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, are based on analysis of research data compiled from 140 high-quality research studies relevant to Australia.
While the results have a lot of people talking, this isn't the first time Morris has been a vocal advocate of circumcision.
In 2014, The Advocate wrote an article about a paper of Morris’, where he wrote: "The new findings now show that infant circumcision should be regarded as equivalent to childhood vaccination and that as such it would be unethical not to routinely offer parents circumcision for their baby boy.
“Delay puts the child’s health at risk and will usually mean it will never happen.”
Defending his stance, Morris, who runs a website devoted to educating people about circumcision, told the publication: “I am not Jewish, nor a medical practitioner or lawyer, so have no religious bias or medico-legal concerns that might get in the way of a rational presentation of the information that has been published in reputable journals,” he says on the site.
“I don’t care what a person’s circumcision status is. What I do care about is that professionals and the public alike be provided with reliable, well-researched information.
“I see this as part of my academic duty in the interests of education. It is then up to each person to apply this knowledge when making decisions in their own best interest or in the best interests of their children or patients.”
Speaking out against Morris' views, Professor Kevin Pringle, Professor of Paediatrics and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand told The Advocate it was worrying.
“The most worrisome aspect is the emphasis on possible diseases that are reported to be significantly more common in the uncircumcised population and the complete lack of any attempt to accurately document the risk of the complications of circumcision,” he said.
Sydney mum, Zoe*, made the difficult decision not to circumcise her baby; however, a few months later, due to medical reasons, the procedure became necessary.
"My husband originally wanted to circumcise our son because he was circumcised," said Zoe. However, after doing some research, we decided not to because the majority of the medical world said it was unnecessary.
"Being fairly "natural" parents we decided to leave it because we didn't want to go ahead with a medical procedure if it wasn't necessary. Sadly at six-weeks-old, we discovered our son's first urinary tract infection.... which became recurrent.
"After several tests, a paediatric urologist told us he was 99 per cent sure it was caused by our son's foreskin and wanted to circumcise him at six months. We didn't hesitate - and it worked! Ever since our son has thrived and has not had another infection."
Similarly, Brisbane mum, Erin* made the difficult decision with her husband not to circumcise their son.
"Circumcision was a reoccurring discussion between my husband and me," said Erin. "We didn't take the decision lightly and spent a large amount of time researching. We were neither pro or anti [circumcision] but as my husband is circumcised, I thought he would want our son to 'look' like his dad. To my surprise, he chose not to have the procedure.
"Studies were not conclusive or evident enough, and non-scientific arguments weren't enough of a reason for us to get him done. If for any reason he needs to be circumcised in the future for health reasons, we wouldn't hesitate. It all comes done to personal preference."
*Names have been changed for privacy.