Should You Have Your Baby Boy Circumcised?

Should You Have Your Baby Boy Circumcised?

Having a baby boy? Congratulations! Along with other decisions to make when having a baby, you’ll have one extra to consider: to circumcise or not. To help you with this important decision, Jason VanderLugt, MD, pediatric hospitalist at Holland Hospital Boven Birth Center, offers some facts and perspective on circumcision.

What is circumcision?

Practiced for thousands of years for cultural, medical and other reasons, circumcision is the surgical removal of the skin covering the tip of the penis (foreskin). In the U.S., most boys today are circumcised. In Michigan, that includes about 75% of boys, and in West Michigan this number is closer to 80%.

How is circumcision performed?

The procedure to free up and remove the foreskin, exposing the head of the penis, takes only about 10 to 15 minutes. It’s typically performed before the baby leaves the hospital by an obstetrician or pediatric specialist using a local anesthetic, along with other safe and effective measures to lessen any discomfort. (You can ask ahead of time about the type of pain control your baby will receive.) A circumcision fully heals within seven to 10 days.

Is circumcision medically necessary?

The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that while the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks, current scientific evidence is not conclusive enough to recommend routine performance of the procedure. Therefore, the decision to circumcise is best made by parents—in consultation with their child’s pediatrician or doctor—taking medical, cultural and social considerations into account.

Are there benefits?

Research indicates that circumcision does offer health benefits, including:

  • decreased risk of urinary tract infections during the first year of life.

  • lower risk of some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

  • protection against penile cancer (a rare disease). 

Although it may be easier to keep a circumcised penis clean and free of infection, boys can be taught to properly clean beneath the foreskin once it becomes retractable (by around puberty).

What about risks?

All surgical procedures offer some risk; however, the following risks associated with circumcision are rare.

  • bleeding and infection

  • incomplete removal of the foreskin, resulting in a corrective procedure

  • irritation of the glans or damage to the penis

Other risks may depend on a baby’s overall health. Again, do not hesitate to talk to the doctor about any questions or concerns before the procedure.

What’s the position of the Pediatric Hospitalists? 

The pediatric specialists at Boven Birth Center share the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics and encourage parents to discuss circumcision with their obstetrician or the doctor performing the procedure. At the Boven Birth Center, our pediatric hospitalists perform circumcisions with care, expertise and attention to the health concerns of babies and their parents.

Are you a mom-to-be? Learn more about our expert staff, state-of-the-art facilities and uniquely personalized care offered at Holland Hospital’s Boven Birth Center.

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  • Jason L. VanderLugt, MD

    Jason L. VanderLugt, MD

    Dr. Jason VanderLugt is a West Michigan native, growing up in Wyoming, MI. He did his undergraduate studies and medical school at the University of Oklahoma, and completed his residency training in pediatrics at Helen Devos Children’s Hospital. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and has been working as a pediatric hospitalist at Holland Hospital since 2013.

    All blogs by Jason L. VanderLugt, MD

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