Circumcision and SIDS: Only One of Them Is Preventable

April 27th, 2010 by Dionna | 32 Comments
Posted in Circumcision/Intactivism, Compassionate Advocacy, Healthy Living, natural parenting, Pregnancy and Birth

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A new peer-reviewed study found that approximately 117 neonatal boys die each year in the United States from circumcision-related complications.

  • Anesthesia reactions.
  • Stroke.
  • Hemorrhages.
  • Infections.

117 deaths, each year, from a completely elective surgery.


in comparison

115 neonatal boys die each year from SIDS.

The causes of SIDS are currently unknown and unpreventable.


what does this mean?

Scientists and doctors do not know how to prevent 100% of SIDS deaths.

Scientists and doctors know exactly how to prevent 100% of circumcision-related deaths.


Read more about the study at the International Coalition for Genital Integrity. Special thanks to IntactByDefault for drawing these succinct comparisons in 140 characters or less.

Photo credit: peaceful parenting (site) (Facebook fan page)

32 Responses to:
"Circumcision and SIDS: Only One of Them Is Preventable"

  1. Ruth Ann

    This alone should be enough to stop parents from being so quick to choose circumcision for their baby boys! I find it really odd that we can accept one thing as “Normal” when it kills more babies every year than something that gets SO much attention by the country ( and deservedly so! But where is the attention for the 117 babies that died from circumcision?). I am so glad that you have taken up this battle!!
    I IV III

  2. Blu Razzberri

    OMG Dionna. That picture is absolutely haunting. WHAT are we DOING?? You know my story, I did this to my first born. It makes me sick every day. I wish someone had been able to show me some serious evidence against it, and stopped me. My poor boy. :( My second is intact and absolutely fine. My worries about the appearance were just that: my own. Intact looks absolutely normal to me, now; as it will to my second son, and his future partner.

    Are you a parent who’s considering circumcising?? Take a look at that baby’s feet — they’re still wrinkled from the womb and covered in vernix. That is a HELPLESS infant about to be TORTURED for the sake of appearance. It’s sickening. Don’t let it happen to your baby — STOP cosmetic infant torture TODAY.

  3. OMG! I had no idea. We knew we wouldn’t cut up our child if it was a boy but I didn’t do as much research because we were having a girl. I had no idea 117 babies died a year because of this barbaric practice!

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Melodie   bfmom

    This is powerful stuff Dionna. The power of stats – I love them. Stats can change the world!

  5. BluebirdMama   bluebirdmama

    Blu Razzberri – I agree. That photo has me in tears. Oh my goodness. I had to look away from those little feet curled in pain.

    Powerful post Dionna.

  6. Sarah

    As a nurse working in NICU I’ve tried to talk parents out of it, but some parents insist – even as they say they can’t watch, it’s too horrible they pay the fee and insist.

    I’ve seen complications, luckily none ended in death, but I’m sure not many parents would be impressed with their new baby boy losing his penis. And it happens – way more often than anyone will say.

    When I was PG last time I passed out while assisting with one – it’s horrible. I’ve been told – oh it’s just because they’re restrained,cold, etc that they cry – they won’t feel a thing. Now the question I have is – if babies and children in general see,hear, taste, everything so much more acutely that adults – wouldn’t they feel it as well? I know when my little girl stubs her toe it’s the end of the world – and she has a ‘high pain threshold’. You ask a grown man to have a circumcision and he’d be sedated with a whole whack of meds for after care – but a baby is given gauze and vaseline. Give me a break.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      The myth that our baby boys don’t feel pain is a tragedy of enormous proportions. It floors me that any medical professional would delude themselves in such a belief for even a moment.
      If a baby responds to his mother’s most gentle touch – to turn his head toward the swell of her breast, to arch his back against her caress, to spread his toes in response to a light sweep of her finger – how is it even remotely possible, then, that he does not feel pain?!
      Sarah, bless you for trying to change peoples’ minds. And as the mama of a boy who spent 5 days in the NICU, I cannot fathom putting him through the further agony and stress of circumcision. Awful.

    • I think they should HAVE TO watch.

      • lana

        I did watch my son get his done – he didn’t cry on drop. The only thing he fussed over was being unwrapped from a blanket. It’s crazy to see the drama in the postings. UGH!

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        Lana – babies often don’t cry when under extreme stress/pain. From (links to more info in original article):

        “Dr. Mark Reiss, long time physician and executive vice president of the esteemed, Doctors Opposing Circumcision, discusses ample research which shows us that even those babies who don’t scream and cry while being cut apart – even the 4% who do receive anesthesia – still show significant and detrimental physiological changes in body and brain activity. Those who do not scream bloody murder show (on neurological scans) to be lapsing into a state of neurogenic shock and/or coma (which can sometimes occur immediately). To the untrained eye (i.e. the parent who says ‘my baby didn’t cry’) it appears as though the baby has just fallen asleep… How blind we sometimes are.”

  7. Sam   samsstories

    This subject makes my stomach turn. One of my very crunchy friends had her baby cut, he is about 18mo old. I can never look at her the same way again. Both of my boys (13yr and 15mo) are intact. We have never had one problem-apart from having to explain it to idiots that do not know any better.

    • I feel the same way. I consider circumcision to be child abuse, and I can never look at someone who adamently defends their right to do this to a child the same way again.

      Those poor little feet…I think I’m going to cry…and be sick…and then cry some more…

  8. I wonder how some of you respond to someone who plays the religion card regarding circumcision?

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Paige – are you talking about Christianity? Christians have been released from the Old Testament’s law on circumcision. In the New Testament, Jesus talks about a spiritual circumcision that *replaces* the physical. Read more here:
      If you’re talking about Judaism, the circumcision of the Old Testament is completely different from the circumcision we see today – not only is there scholarly evidence that the circ. of old was a *tiny* cut in the tip of the foreskin, but can you imagine hacking off the foreskin without the medical equipment we have today? Boys would have died all the time. No, today’s circ. is much more brutal. (That still doesn’t excuse ANY genital mutilation – small cut or no). There is a new Jewish ceremony called the Brit Shalom – a “circ.” ceremony without any cutting. See for more on circumcision and Judaism.
      There are a couple of informative links on Muslims and circumcision in this post I did awhile ago:

    • SBG

      I have a very hard time with religious circumcision. I’m not a religious person myself, and I believe that evil done in the name of religion is still evil. I would not cut a piece off of my child because some supposed God told me to. I think, logically, why would God require such a ridiculous thing? So I try to just not talk about religious circumcision since obviously my way of thinking is just going to alienate them.

  9. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    I can’t look at the picture after a glance. It’s so, so sad. I had no idea about those stats. Holy moly, talk about eye opening.

  10. Bethann

    Romans 2:29 “But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” (Ctx is vs. 25-29)

    The yellow clip in the picture is a hollister clip, for the umbellical cord. Now that I’d say is painless. But it pains me to even see the contraption that baby boy is stuck in! Olympic Curcumstraint, that is Olympic Torture!

  11. Jen

    The biggest thing about circumcision are the myths that its cleaner. It prevents STDs. Blah blah blah. What so many people don’t realize is that all these “studies” that are done based on it are all conducted in third-world countries where living conditions are down-right nasty, proper & adequate medical care is scarce, & sexual protection is not taught or encouraged, but also hard to come by.

    Now you take countries like the US & Australia (the only two countries in the world where circ’ing is routinely done for none-religious reasons)- & they hear of these studies & the myths that come along with them & BAM! you’ve got this stigma surrounding keeping your precious little boy intact.

    It just chaps my buns to know end when I hear the “it looks better” excuse. Listen, last time I checked, it really didn’t matter what a penis looked like, it just mattered that it worked when it needed to (besides the fact that when an intact penis is erect- NEWSFLASH! it looks just like circ’d one!).

    When two out of three men in the ENTIRE world are intact, I think that should say a lot. Do we think that the approximate 75% of the men in the world are walking around with nasty, infected, STD-ridden penises?? I’d venture to say that the answer is no, & that’s why the rest of the world doesn’t routinely practice the mutilation of its boy’s gentiles.

    Okay now that I’ve gone off on a tangent, I should say that our son is not circumcised, despite having friends & my mother tell me, “Ewww, that’s so gross.” No, you’re so gross. Haha. Sorry. So anyways, we’re preggos with #3 right now, & if its a boy, it will remain in tact. Men were born with fore-skin for a reason & it should be left there.

  12. Corrie Kolbe   newwife777

    Oh. My. Gosh. I just sat and cried. And cried. And felt like a horrible horrible mother. DH had to come over and comfort me, that’s how bad it was. I feel like I absolutely failed my son.
    We had DS circumcised, mainly because I DID do lots of research, but honestly couldn’t find compelling evidence NOT to. But had I seen that picture?? That would have done it. No one would have ever gone near my son after that. For me, that picture is FAR more moving than the stats. (I have nothing against stats, don’t get me wrong. And I will be remembering those numbers.)
    And actually, I regretted having him circ’d that very day. Right after it happened, and I mean, RIGHT after, he hadn’t been back to my room yet, his breathing went all funky and the ped and nurses couldn’t figure out what was going on, and they called in the neonatologist, who ran tests, etc. etc., and they never did figure out what caused the change in breathing. He went back to normal after a bit, but it was a HUGE scare and it made it even MORE painful for HIM because they were running all these tests and doing bloodwork, etc. etc. etc. Oh my gosh, it was awful. And to think that it was actually worse than I thought.
    As far as the whole “well, he didn’t cry” load of crap, here’s my thought- are we, as adults, able to cry when we’re in massive pain? I don’t know about you, but I usually can’t!!! Know what I mean??
    Needless to say, if/when we have another baby boy, we are NOT getting him circ’d. I will be sharing this info. Another thought: the pain and such were the reasons I did NOT get DD’s ears pierced. Hmmmm

  13. accidentally unsubscribed myself from the comments!

  14. Karen

    No one should have the authority to amputate another’s body part. Pain really isn’t the issue, although it is horrible of course. The function of human foreskin should be learned. What a natural penis should look like and perform should be learned. Parents are circumcising their sons because they don’t know any better and physicians are not telling them otherwise. It is the duty of physicians to inform parents and to refuse to perform the mutilation. Many physicians refuse this on their own sons, but continue to mutilate their patients. This procedure violates the Hippocratic Oath to “do not harm”. Mohels, who should be aware of the function of the organ they harm, must not be taught anything intelligent medically. How are they allowed to do this surgery? Anyone with enough intelligence should see this violation of human rights. We must aim our disgust at the physicians and mohels who perform this procedure. Circumcision will continue because people don’t get down and dirty with the people who mutilate children in the name of ignorance, money and religion.

  15. Lilly

    The stats are misleading: neonatal means the first four weeks of life, and the majority of SIDS cases occurs between two and four months of age. (In total, three thousand babies in the US die from SIDS, and more male babies than female babies do.)

    Parents often choose circumcision for religious beliefs, customs, and traditions, and you will need a stronger case than misleading statistics and an ambiguous picture to change minds.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Lilly – there is nothing misleading about the statistic – it clearly says “neonatal.” It doesn’t say that children *only* die in the first 4 wks. And I am aware that parents choose to circumcise for many reasons. This is just one of the many reasons that parents should reconsider that decision.

      • Lilly

        First, the comparison should be to another behavior that parents know accompanies some risk – like say, riding in car with your baby – but may choose to do anyway for a host of reasons. Secondly, you are comparing the rare repercussions of a procedure when they would manifest (in the neonatal period) to that of a syndrome when it is very unlikely to occur. Both of this comparisons make the stats misleading.

        In general, though, your own references seem to indicate that circumcision as a medical practice is falling out of favor, as would any elective procedure which on balance has marginal advantages or disadvantages. Therefore, a parent’s decisions to circumcise a child is most likely rooted in something very personal, often religious, and any crusade to get parents to reconsider their decision should, in my opinion, come from a place acknowledging and respecting those specific concerns. I see little on your posts that would convince someone with strong religious or cultural practices to change their mind.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        The whole point of the comparison is that one of the two can be prevented, the other is not 100% preventable.
        Regardless, that doesn’t take away from the fact that over 100 boys die from circ. in the first 4 wks of life. Those 100+ deaths are preventable – don’t circumcise for non-medical reasons.
        Does this post discuss religious/cultural practices? No. I simply can’t write a novel every day.
        There are many sites/articles that I can refer you to if you are in need of some information on circumcision & religion/culture.

    • Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

      You don’t think the fact that 117 boys die from circumcision-related complications is a strong argument against it?

  16. I would like to add a comment to this post. I am a Postpartum Doula. I love all of my newborn babies. If a baby is circumcised by a Dr. that knows what he is doing, there will be no pain or anguish on the part of the baby. In the Jewish religion a moele will perform the circumcision. It is a ritual that was commanded by God for all the jewish males to have done in entering into a covenant with Him. It is the foreskin surrounding the penis that is clipped off. the penis is not clamped. Many woman that have had many vaginal infections found that if their husbands were circumcised, it would help them to stay cleaner and there would be less chance of infection, so even adults sometimes choose to have this procedure done. it is not barbaric, just different than what you know. research in depth to find the answers to know if this is something that is right for your baby. It’s Biblical.

  17. I saw Joni’s reply in my inbox and rushed over to respond but I see Dionna handled it! :)

    If there was some magic pill that guaranteed no pain I still wouldn’t do it because IT ISN”T MY BODY.

  18. Erika

    For those who think circ looks better- Honestly, all penises are UGLY!

  19. para

    Officially 117 baby boys die of circumcision each year.
    About 1,500 infants died of SIDS in 2013. “Baby boys have a ~50% higher risk of SIDS than girls”
    618 died from neonatal hemorrhage in 2006.
    i was rape-torture-mutilated, i remember, i’m not fucking thankful.

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