The problem of routine circumcision

Can Med Assoc J. 1966 Sep 10;95(11):576-81.


One hundred male infants were studied at the Kingston General Hospital, Kingston, Ontario, to determine the incidence and complications of routine circumcision. The parents were also interviewed concerning the reason for operation.In these 100 infants, complications, usually minor, were very common, and included hemorrhage (35), meatal ulcers (31), infection (eight), phimosis (one) and meatal stenosis.The reasons given for operation were prophylactic-to avoid the psychological trauma of later operations for infection, phimosis and "troubles" (40), cleanliness (11) and phimosis (four). The remaining cases were for social and other non-medical reasons. Attitudes of parents and physicians regarding circumcision varied from firm belief in its value to a casual approach. One-half of the babies had partial circumcisions, confirming previous suspicions that non-Jewish males frequently had partial operations. Partial operations do not always guarantee cleanliness and probably do not eliminate the risk of penile carcinoma in all cases, if smegma is carcinogenic. Routine circumcisions spare a few children psychologically traumatic operations at a later date and relieve parents of anxiety about the future of the uncircumcised child. This should be balanced against the complications which, although usually minor, may occasionally be serious.Between 1961 and 1962, at the Kingston General Hospital, 349 (48%) of 727 male newborn babies were routinely circumcised.

MeSH terms

  • Circumcision, Male / adverse effects*
  • Circumcision, Male / history*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Ontario