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Cuad Bioet. 2017 Sep-Dec;28(94):303-316.

Preventive Newborn Male Circumcision: What Is the Child's Best Interest?

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Institute of Public Health, School of Medicine ″A. Gemelli″, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Rome - Italy.
High Center for Theological Studies - Badajoz - Spain.
Hemodialysis Service, Department of Surgery, Fondazione Policlinico ″A. Gemelli″, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Rome (Italy).


Preventive newborn male circumcision has been at the center of scientific debate for many years. The reason for promoting preventive newborn male circumcision, is the reduction of the incidence of UTIs (in the first six months of life), penile cancer, transmission of STDs/HIV infection/AIDS. However preventive interventions in the newborn involving violations of bodily integrity elicit several ethical questions. In this article, we reviewed the literature regarding circumcision, the prevention of UTIs, penile cancer, transmission of STDs/HIV infection/AIDS and complications of this practice in the neonatal period. The very limited reduction of incidence of UTIs and the uncertain preventive role of newborn male circumcision towards penile cancer, STDs/HIV infection and AIDS, makes it difficult to justify male circumcision in newborns. Moreover, the challenge in obtaining a unanimous opinion on newborn male circumcision derives from the fact that, as a preventive intervention, it requires evaluation criteria that are not comparable to those of therapeutic treatments. Since preventive male circumcision determines permanent alteration of the body, some authors believe that it can be used only in subjects that are capable of giving their valid consent. In the case of a newborn, the ″child's best interest″ should be used as a standard, but preventive newborn male circumcision does not satisfy it.

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