Health Benefits of Circumcision Outweigh Risks

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Our Saturday green news brings you the latest on health, parenting and cool baby and kid products:

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Photo courtesy of Lenka U.

  • Health benefits of circumcision outweigh risks: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released a draft of long-awaited federal guidelines on circumcision, stating that medical evidence proves that health benefits from the procedure outweigh its risks and health insurers should cover it. As Dr. Jonathan Mermin who oversees the CDC’s programs on HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, explained. “Although circumcision is a personal decision that may involve religious or cultural preferences, the scientific evidence is clear that the benefits outweigh the risks.” These are the first federal guidelines on circumcision, a brief medical procedure that involves cutting away the foreskin around the tip of the penis. Germs can grow underneath the foreskin, and CDC officials say the procedure can lower a male’s risk of sexually-transmitted diseases, penile cancer and even urinary tract infections. The CDC started working on the guidelines about seven years ago, when a cluster of influential studies in Africa indicated circumcision might help stop spread of the AIDS virus. Dr. Aaron Tobian, a Johns Hopkins University researcher involved in one of the African studies, added: “The benefits of male circumcision have become more and more clear over the last 10 years. But the guidelines are important, because the rates of newborn male circumcision have been dropping.”
  • Longer breastfeeding improves health and saves money for healthcare: According to a new UK research,  doubling the amount of mothers who breastfeed for 7-18 months in their lifetime and assisting others to continue breastfeeding for at least four months could save the National Health Service more than £40 million annually. As the researchers explain: “The savings would come from reducing the incidence of common childhood diseases and curbing the subsequent risk of breast cancer in the mothers, all of which have been linked to low rates of breastfeeding.” Since breastfeeding rates in the UK as well as other high income countries are rather low, the researchers evaluated if boosting breastfeeding could cut healthcare costs by improving both mother’s and child’s health. In particular, they looked at the financial impact of not breastfeeding on gastrointestinal and lower respiratory tract infections; the ear infection otitis media in infants; the potentially lethal gut disorder necrotising enterocolitis in preterm babies; and lifetime risk of breast cancer in mothers. The results indicated that helping women who exclusively breastfeed for 1 week to keep going for at least 4 months could save at least £11 million a year by cutting the incidence of three infections.
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