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Paediatr Child Health. 1998 Sep-Oct; 3(5): 305.
PMCID: PMC2851361

Re: Urinary tract infections (UTI) and neonatal circumcision

I offer my perspective on Dr EW Outerbridge’s letter concerning urinary tract infections (UTI) and neonatal circumcision (Paediatr Child Health 1998;3[1]:19). I am writing not as a health care provider, but as a consumer.

In his letter, Dr Outerbridge comments on the tendency for circumcision to become the focus of attention whenever an item on the agenda is UTI. I would like to go a step further and note that circumcision quickly loses its high profile when the subject switches to medical ethics.

The problem with neonatal circumcision is that it lops off a useful appendage (1) on the basis of third-party authorization. In general, nontherapeutic surgical interventions cannot be undertaken without the voluntary informed consent of the person undergoing the intervention (2).

Consequently, it remains to be seen whether neonatal circumcision will one day have repercussions akin to those that have been triggered by another procedure which removes normal parts of the reproductive system without patient consent – forced sterilization (3).


1. Taylor JR, Lockwood AP, Taylor AJ. The Prepuce: Specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision. Br J Urol. 1996;77:291–5. [PubMed]
2. Somerville M. Medical Interventions and the Criminal Law: Lawful or Excusable Wounding? McGill Law J. 1980;26:82–96.
3. Cairney R. Democracy was never intended for degenerates: Alberta’s flirtation with eugenics comes back to haunt it. Can Med Assoc J. 1996;155:789–92. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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