Medical Advantages of Circumcising a Newborn
The prevalence of testicular cancer is considerably lower among circumcised males than it is among uncircumcised males.
(New England Journal of Medicine 336; 1244-1245 (1997))
The prevalence of urinary tract infections and their associated complications is significantly lower among circumcised children than among uncircumcised children.
(Clinical Pediatrics 32; 130-134 (1993))
The prevalence of sexually transmitted infectious diseases (STD) is lower among circumcised males and their partners than among uncircumcised males.
(New England Journal of Medicine 322; 1308-1312(1990))
Possible Complications Arising From Circumcision
Bleeding - Extensive medical surveys show that it is highly improbable that circumcision on the eighth day (or after) will cause profuse bleeding. Cases of profuse bleeding documented in American medical journals most likely resulted from the removal of the foreskin on the second or third day of the child's life, as is common practice in the U.S
Infections - In studies of hundreds of thousands of circumcised babies, the incidence of circumcision-related infections was very low and could be avoided by adhering to appropriate medical standards.
Anatomical damage - Circumcision-caused injuries are highly uncommon since the procedure is relatively simple and mohels (circumcision professionals) use equipment which protects the organ. Anatomical damage is rare when trained experienced professionals perform the circumcision procedure.
Halacha considers the health of the newborn a supreme value. Therefore, it is a mitzvah to take all necessary measures to avoid endangering his health, including delaying the day of circumcision.
Medical Developments and the Practice of Circumcision
Preventing infection - Mohels today adhere to the same precautions as are taken to prevent infection in similar medical procedures: sterilization of the circumcision instruments, hand washing, specific bandaging techniques and use of appropriate bandaging materials.
Minimizing pain to the newborn during the circumcision - Various means are employed today to reduce the pain of circumcision:
basic pain relief medication containing paracetimol (e.g. acamol, dexamol, aldolor) in the appropriate dosage (1 cc/ 1 kg of the child's weight, under guidance of a physician).
proper instruction of parents regarding feeding of the baby before and after the circumcision.
a drop of wine, grape juice, or sugar water sucked by the baby from a gauze pad.
These are all accepted and effective methods. It is doubtful whether the practice of injecting anesthetic directly into the foreskin actually reduces the pain of circumcision since the pain of the injection itself is not necessarily any less than the pain of the circumcision.
Avoiding bleeding - Though circumcision generally causes only minimal bleeding, there are certain methods of circumcision which prevent any bleeding whatsoever. A special clamping method is available which causes necrosis of the foreskin, allowing for its bloodless removal. This method, however, is not recommended as Jewish tradition requires drawing of some blood during the brit milah. Additionally, while this procedure may prevent bleeding, the necrosis is likely to increase pain.
When a circumcision is performed either by a certified mohel who is familiar with the medical issues, or by a medical doctor who is knowledgeable in Jewish law, and parents are properly prepared and guided through the procedure, the child's family will feel confident during the brit milah ceremony.