New­born Q & A Should my boy get the snip?

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

Q:I’m about to give birth to my lit­tle boy and I’d re­ally like to find out a bit about cir­cum­ci­sion. My hus­band is not cir­cum­cised, and he’s not keen on giv­ing our son the snip, but I’ve heard that it is bet­ter for lit­tle boys to be cir­cum­cised. Is this true?

A:Si­mon an­swers: Ac­cord­ing to the new Child Care Act in South Africa, it is not per­mis­si­ble to cir­cum­cise boys un­der the age of 16 un­less for med­i­cal or re­li­gious rea­sons. Med­i­cal rea­sons for cir­cum­ci­sion in­clude: • Phi­mo­sis A tight fore­skin that does not re­tract over the head of the pe­nis. This can cause ob­struc­tion to urine flow and lead to blad­der in­fec­tions, with an in­creased risk for fre­quent in­fec­tions un­der the fore­skin. • Hy­pospa­dias The open­ing of the ure­thra does not ap­pear at the tip of the pe­nis but rather along the un­der­side of the head of the pe­nis or the shaft. • As a strat­egy to pre­vent sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases It is well known that un­cir­cum­cised men trans­mit HIV eas­ier than cir­cum­cised men.

Un­less you have a re­li­gious rea­son or a med­i­cal rea­son you should not have your son cir­cum­cised. The Act has been put in place to pre­serve the right of the child to choose. If your son wants to be cir­cum­cised he can de­cide that for him­self when he’s older than 16.

A com­mon rea­son that par­ents con­sider cir­cum­ci­sion is if the dad is cir­cum­cised and they want their son to look like him. This is a non-is­sue. One day the ques­tion will arise as to why he looks dif­fer­ent, and one sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion will re­move all mys­tery: “Dad was cir­cum­cised and you weren’t.”

The best time to cir­cum­cise a baby is in the first two weeks. The pro­ce­dure is sim­ple and is done un­der lo­cal anaes­thetic with some­one hold­ing the baby still. There is no pain dur­ing the pro­ce­dure. The re­cov­ery is quick and the baby will be com­fort­able from the next morn­ing. The wound will heal in a few days. Af­ter the new­born pe­riod things be­come a lit­tle tricky, and a gen­eral anaes­thetic in an op­er­at­ing the­atre is nec­es­sary. So you may as well wait, if you can, un­til the child is older than three years when the anaes­thetic is eas­ier. Cir­cum­ci­sion has a myth­i­cal aura that it’s ex­tremely trau­matic and painful if not done early in life. This is not true and teenage boys han­dle cir­cum­ci­sion very well. They are in a lit­tle pain and dis­com­fort for a few days, as with any op­er­a­tion, but with loose cloth­ing and good pain re­lief they cope very eas­ily.

All cir­cum­ci­sions should be per­formed by qual­i­fied and skilled sur­geons op­er­at­ing un­der ster­ile con­di­tions. YB

Nuby Icy­bite Key Teether, R90, Baby City, DisChem, Baby Boom Dudu Anatom­i­cal Seat from CAM for potty train­ing (Prima Baby SA), R799, Ham­leys, and

Baby Dove Rich Mois­ture Lo­tion 200ml R48,99 at re­tail­ers and baby stores

Dr Si­mon Strachan Pae­di­a­tri­cian

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