One of the risks of circumcision in either sex, at any age, is death. It is difficult to obtain accurate estimates of the deaths caused by circumcision because hospitals are not required to release this data, doctors often purposefully attribute the death to a secondary cause, such as "hemorrhaging," or "septic shock," and oftentimes, parents who are complicit agree to keep silent about the surrounding of their child's death.
Holt (1913) reported deaths of boys from tuberculosis transmitted by tubercular mohelim during ritual non-therapeutic circumcision. Today tuberculosis is no longer the problem it was in 1913, but now, evidence that shows mohelim are spreading the herpes virus to children via the practice of metzitzah b'peh, or direct oral suction of the wounded child's penis, has been mounting recently, but parents who are asked about details surrounding their children's deaths, who performed their child's circumcisions, whether or not metzitzah b'peh was performed, etc., are often not forthcoming to protect the reputation of the ritual circumcisers in their community.
Parents of children who were circumcised in the secular setting of the hospital may also agree to repeat whatever their doctor told them to protect both the reputation of the doctor involved, and to keep their conscience free of the fact that they gave their consent to the procedure.
Surveys of deaths
Earp et al. (2018) collected data on 9,833,110 boys who had been neonatally circumcised between 2001 to 2010 in the United States. The authors found that one death occurs for every 49,166 circumcisions.
Schröder et al. (2021) reviewed the experience of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto with regard to circumcision-related emergency admissions between 2000 and 2013. They found that 19 previously healthy neonates had emergency admissions for circumcision complications. The records of patients who had died were searched to identify those who had been circumcised.
Four of the boys had post-circumcision bleeding. Four of the boys had glans amputations. Two previously healthy boys died. Based on the data provided, the estimated death rate is one dead boy for every 84,000 circumcisions.
Circumcision caused death is usually hushed-up and attributed to some other cause, however a few cases have been reported in the medical literature. The few cases reported are only the visible tip of the iceberg. Most cases are not reported.
- Hiss, J, Horowitz, A, Kahana, T. Fatal haemorrhage following male ritual circumcision. J Clin Forensic Med. March 2000; 7(1): 32-4. PMID. DOI. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
- Newell C (19 January 2004).
Judgement of Inquiry into the Death of Ryleigh Roman Bryan McWillis, Circumstitions, Office of the Chief Coroner of British Columbia. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
- Coroner C. Circumcision: a minor procedure?. Paediatr Child Health. April 2007; 12(4): 311-2. PMID. PMC. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
Estimations of death due to male infant circumcision
Gellis (1978) estimated that there are more deaths each year from non-therapeutic circumcision of children than from cancer of the penis.
Baker (1979) estimated 229 deaths per year in the United States caused by non-therapeutic male infant circumcision.
Bollinger (2010} estimated approximately 117 neonatal circumcision-related deaths occur annually in the United States, about one out of every 77 male neonatal deaths, more than suffocation, auto accidents, or even SIDS.
The United States, in addition to having the world's highest incidence of non-therapeutic, non-religious circumcision, also has the highest rate of infant mortality. The relationship is unclear. A correlation exists but does not prove cause and effect.
- (16 August 2013). Circumcision Deaths
Circumcision Deaths, CIRP, Circumcision Reference Library.
Circumcision Deaths in USA, circinfo.org. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
Death from Circumcision, Dr. Momma. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
Death, Doctors Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
- Circumcision of Infant Males , Royal Australasian College of Physicians. (1 September 2010). Retrieved 29 March 2021.
- Dave S, et al. Canadian Urological Association guideline on the care of the normal foreskin and neonatal circumcision in Canadian infants (abridged version). Can Urol Assoc J. February 2018; 12(2): 18-28. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
- Holt, LE. Tuberculosis acquired through ritual circumcision. JAMA. 12 July 1913; LXI: 99-102. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
- James, Susan (9 March 2012)."Baby Dies of Herpes in Ritual Circumcision By Orthodox Jews", abcnewsgo.com, ABC News. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
- Baker, Robert L.. Newborn male circumcision: needless and dangerous. Sexual Medicine Today. 1979; 3(11): 35-6. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
And let us tell parents that it is not the thing to do unless there is a specific indication.
- Earp, Brian D., Alareddy, Veerajalandhar, Alareddy, Veerasathpurush, Rotta, Alexandre T.. Factors Associated With Early Deaths Following Neonatal Male Circumcision in the United States, 2001 to 2010. Clin Pediatr (Phila). November 2018; 57(13): 1532-40. PMID. DOI. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
- Schröder, Annette, Farhat, Walid A., Chiasson, David, Wilson, Gregory J., Koyle, Martin A.. Serious and Fatal Complications after Neonatal Circumcision. Eur Urol. 12 December 2021; 29: S2405-4569(21)00316-3. PMID. DOI. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
- Gellis SS. Circumcision. Am J Dis Child. December 1978; 132: 1168. PMID. DOI. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
- Baker RL. Newborn male circumcision: needless and dangerous. Sexual Medicine Today. November 1979; 3(11): 135-6. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
- Bollinger D, Boy's Health Advisory. Lost Boys: An Estimate of U.S. Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths. Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies. 26 April 2010; 4(1): 78–90. DOI. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
- MacDorman, Marian F., Matthews TJ. [https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr63/nvsr63_05.pdf International Comparisons of Infant Mortality and Related Factors: United States and Europe, 2010]. National Vital Statistics Reports. 25 September 2014; 63(5): 1-7. Retrieved 12 September 2022.