Views from a mommy

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Feb 2

uncutting:

Does anyone know what happened to viewsfromamommy? She hasn’t updated since October :(

mollymcflyyy brought this post to my attention (as she’s my Facebook friend!) and I’m so greatly flattered!! To be honest I miss this blog and updating, trying to help new people understand the truth and spread information and safety! I recently had my second child which makes it 2 under 2 for me so between hospital time, taking pictures (And updating them on FB), playing with my guys, wifely duties and just normal momma things I really just don’t have the time! I love you all so much and really hope I have the time to come back here soon! I’m hoping once my littlest guy is old enough to play with his brother I’ll get a LITTLE more free time to come back here <3 Thank you for thinking of me!!

Baby killed when SUV flips in Raleigh, NC

mommyslittlesunshine:

Car seats and how to use them are NOT parenting styles, it is the right of every child to be safe!

Oct 9
Load leg&#8230; it&#8217;s probably a term you&#8217;ve never heard of (or perhaps just heard of when you read the recent posts about the CYBEX Aton2 or Nuna USA Pipa). Currently these are the only 2 seats available in the US with a load leg (there are many seats with this technology in Europe).Curious what the load leg is and how it works to keep a child safer?

Load leg… it’s probably a term you’ve never heard of (or perhaps just heard of when you read the recent posts about the CYBEX Aton2 or Nuna USA Pipa). Currently these are the only 2 seats available in the US with a load leg (there are many seats with this technology in Europe).
Curious what the load leg is and how it works to keep a child safer?

Oct 9

An Open Letter to the Author of ‘How Circumcision Broke the Internet’

circumcision photo by miss pupik

Brian D. Earp believes circumcision is worth talking about. And he would like Mr. Stern and the editors of Slate magazine to know why.

—-

Dear Mr. Stern,

I recently read your article, “How Circumcision Broke the Internet” for Slate magazine [republished as “'Intactivists' Against Circumcision" in Canada’s National Post]. I understand your concern about overheated rhetoric in public debates as well as the misuse of science to support untenable positions. As a scientist and ethicist who studies circumcision professionally, I will admit that I have seen this happen on both sides of this particular controversy. I think, however, that in your hurry to admonish “the intactivists” for pushing their anti-circumcision arguments too far, you may have fallen prey to some of that very same rhetorical excess (as well as misuse of science) in your own piece.

First, when you said that circumcision used to be “practiced by most families” I’m glad that you added the qualifier, “in America at least.” This is an important point. Circumcision is extremely uncommon in most parts of the world, and about 70-80% of men globally are left intact. Over 70% of those who are circumcised come from Muslim communities where it is done as a rite of passage; it is also a rite of passage in countries like South Africa, where at least 39 young men recently died from complications related to circumcision, such as excessive bleeding from their penises. Europeans, by contrast, very rarely circumcise outside of religious communities, and a majority of European doctors are quite firm that any “health benefits” conferred by circumcision–even when the procedure is properly performed–are dubious at best. In fact, 38 of Europe’s most pre-eminent medical authorities recently expounded on this point in the flagship journal Pediatrics:

Only one of the arguments put forward by the American Academy of Pediatrics [concerning potential health benefits for circumcision] has some theoretical relevance in relation to infant male circumcision; namely, the possible protection against urinary tract infections in infant boys, which can easily be treated with antibiotics without tissue loss. The other claimed health benefits, including protection against HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts, and penile cancer, are questionable, weak, and likely to have little public health relevance in a Western context, and they do not represent compelling reasons for surgery before boys are old enough to decide for themselves.

Also, I noticed that you cite a “systematic review” by Brian Morris (and a co-author) in support of one of your claims about penile sensitivity. Your readers may not be aware that Professor Morris runs a pro-circumcision advocacy website, has founded a highly active circumcision lobby group (some of whose board members derive a substantial income from performing circumcisions), and has recently been profiled in the International Journal of Epidemiology as being engaged in systematically distorting the academic literature on circumcision:

[As] in critical letters to the editor following other recent studies that failed to support their agenda, Morris et al. air a series of harsh criticisms against our study. As seen, however, the points raised are not well founded. It seems that the main purpose, as with prior letters, is to be able in future writings to refer to our study as an “outlier study” or one that has been “debunked”, “rejected by credible researchers” or “shown wrong in subsequent proper statistical analysis.” … As these critics repeatedly refer to Morris’ pro-circumcision manifesto as their source of knowledge, their objectivity must be questioned.

Perhaps it is not much of a surprise, then, that Professor Morris’ “systematic reviews” tend to yield results that come out rather favorable toward circumcision. In other words, it isn’t quite enough to simply dredge up a reference in support of your point of view — anyone with a computer and access to the internet can do that. Instead, researchers who study circumcision more seriously have to consider that even the most basic science on the subject is as complex as it is contentious. For example, this recent paper criticizes the methodology of the “sexual satisfaction” findings from the African studies you mentioned:

Rather than blindly accepting such findings as any more trustworthy than other findings in the literature, it should be recalled that a strong study design, such as a randomized controlled trial, does not offset the need for high-quality questionnaires. Having obtained the questionnaires from the authors (RH Gray and RC Bailey, personal communication), I am not surprised that these studies provided little evidence of a link between circumcision and various sexual difficulties. Several questions were too vague to capture possible differences between circumcised and not-yet circumcised participants (e.g. lack of a clear distinction between intercourse and masturbation-related sexual problems and no distinction between premature ejaculation and trouble or inability to reach orgasm). Thus, non-differential misclassification of sexual outcomes in these African trials probably favoured the null hypothesis of no difference, whether an association was truly present or not.

Speaking of those African trials, you write that “circumcision lowers the risk of HIV acquisition in heterosexual men by about 60 to 70 percent.” But you left out a few important qualifiers. First, those studies have been heavily criticized – notwithstanding that they have also been defended, by none other than our good friend Brian Morris (see above) along with his usual team of collaborators including the software engineer and “internationally recognized circumcision activist“ Jake Waskett. Among other issues, not one of the studies was placebo-controlled (which could have been accomplished by performing a non-invasive sham surgery); and two of the trials were stopped early, which typically has the effect of overestimating the effect size of the “treatment” being studied. Readers will, of course, have to evaluate both the scientific criticisms and the defenses of the original trials to get a sense of the debate in this area, and draw their own conclusions.

Second, the African trials were carried out on adult volunteers rather than infants, which raises far fewer ethical concerns: not even the most fanatical of “intactivists” would argue that adult men should be prohibited from having their own foreskins removed if that is what they desire. Finally, the studies were carried out in Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa, each of which has a very different epidemiological environment and disease profile than what is seen in countries such as the United States. For example, in Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa, the base rate of HIV transmission is very high, and the virus is spread primarily through heterosexual contact. In places like the the U.S., by contrast, the base rate of HIV transmission is very low, and the virus is spread primarily through injective drug use and gay sex. Accordingly, even if we were to accept the findings from the African trials at face value, we would have no evidence that circumcision could be useful in other parts of the worldlet alone in infants, who are not susceptible to contracting HIV (unless they are molested).

What about the other STIs you mention? The latest systematic review and meta-analysis on this question reaches a conclusion very different from yours:

The claim that circumcision reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infections has been repeated so frequently that many believe it is true. In studies of general populations, [however], there is no clear or consistent positive impact of circumcision on the risk of individual sexually transmitted infections. Consequently, the prevention of sexually transmitted infections cannot rationally be interpreted as a benefit of circumcision, and any policy of circumcision for the general population to prevent sexually transmitted infections is not supported by the evidence in the medical literature.

Altogether, then, your citation of studies that show only benefits for circumcision (and your facile dismissal of those that point to the possibility of any downsides) is rather selective, to say the least. In fact, it reminds me of that very same “devilishly clever sophistry dressed up as logic” you referred to in your article.

You mention the term “genital mutilation” being used to refer to circumcision, and peg it to a “violent mob of commentators.” I will say that I don’t much like the use of this term myself, as nobody likes to be told that they’ve been “mutilated” (among other reasons). But it’s worth mentioning that even thoughtful, sober legal scholars as well as respected bioethicists have used the term “mutilation” in this context as well — in part, no doubt, because certain forms of genital cutting that are actually less invasive than male circumcision are unambiguously classified as “mutilations” by the World Health Organization. This includes the ‘pricking’ of the clitoral prepuce of young girls (which does not remove any tissue and does not impair function, but which is nevertheless federally banned in the United States). A fortiori, the argument goes, non-therapeutic circumcision of young males must also be a mutilation, since it removes 1/3 or more of the motile skin system of the penis.

Now, you do get some things right. The idea that the foreskin has “mythical powers” is very silly indeed. It has no such powers. But it does consist of sexually sensitive tissue (whose sensitiveness may certainly vary from male to male); it does serve gliding and lubricating functions during sex, which does not seem inconsequential; and thus it might be at least reasonable to raise a question about the propriety of removing this tissue before the person whose penis it is has had a chance to make his own decision. In medical ethics, irreversible surgeries of any kind are generally treated with great caution, especially when there is no disease or deformity present, and even more so when the patient is incapable of giving consent.

So, no, circumcised men are not all damaged goods nor condemned to having terrible sex lives: that is clearly not the case, as circumcised men will generally attest. (Incidentally, some “circumcised” females report that they enjoy their sex lives as well, despite being told how “mutilated” they are by the WHO). But some men DO feel harmed by their circumcisions, either because the operation was botched (which should be an impermissible risk for any non-consensual, non-therapeutic surgery), or because they feel violated in having had an erogenous part of their penis removed before they had an opportunity to say ’no’.

Of course, if it were any other part of the body we were talking about in this regard, most people would find this to be a fairly reasonable emotional reaction.

Finally, you seem to misunderstand the meaning of the words “medically unnecessary” — a term you attribute to those nutty “intactivists” in reference to non-therapeutic infant circumcision. Just because some health benefits may possibly ensue from removing a part of the body (and it’s unclear that net health benefits even do ensue in the case of circumcision, as discussed above), this does not make the surgery necessary, much less ethically sound. For example, we could eliminate breast cancer by removing the breast buds of all infant girls — and that would be an extraordinary medical benefit. However, infant prophylactic breast bud removal is not only “medically unnecessary” but is quite clearly morally impermissible. Furthermore, UTIs can be treated with oral antibiotics (as they are for girls, who get them 10 times more frequently), and STIs can be prevented by safe sex practices (as they are in Europe, where circumcision is rarely performed, and where STIs are, if anything, actually less of a public health concern). Of course, if an adult male would like to get himself circumcised as a way to reduce his risk of becoming infected with an STI–despite the fact that the evidence in this area is rather murky, and despite the fact that he would have to wear a condom either way–that is certainly up to him. It’s quite a different matter, however, to remove healthy tissue from an infant based upon a rough guess about his future sexual behavior.

In other words, if the “medical benefits” in question can be obtained by less risky, less invasive, more autonomy-respecting means, then irreversible genital surgery without consent cannot be construed as being “necessary” by even the wildest stretch of the imagination. The opposite of “necessary”, of course, is “unnecessary”; hence the term “medically unnecessary” used by “intactivists”.

In the final analysis, there can be no doubting that certain “fringe” individuals take anti-circumcision arguments to extremes. But it would be a mistake to imply, as your article rather boisterously does, that the only people who are opposed to circumcision are “wacky” activists — or, I’m sorry, “wack-job intactivists”, as the Twitter manager for Slate magazine put it in the tweet* linking to your article. Instead, respected medical organizations including the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) have come out strongly against the practice, for many of the reasons I have already discussed. The KNMG states:

The official viewpoint of KNMG and other related medical/scientific organisations is that non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is a violation of children’s rights to autonomy and physical integrity. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision can cause complications – bleeding, infection, urethral stricture and panic attacks are particularly common. KNMG is therefore urging a strong policy of deterrence. KNMG is calling upon doctors to actively and insistently inform parents who are considering the procedure of the absence of medical benefits and the danger of complications.

My best guess is that your views on circumcision are rather heavily informed by (and perhaps even constrained by) the default norms of American society, which sees non-therapeutic genital cutting** of boys to be an unremarkable affair. Your mostly-American readers, therefore, may happily lap up your attack on “intactivists” as being right on the money. But the US has a very strange history in adopting circumcision as a cultural norm, and the rest of the developed world views us*** with a mix of curiosity and disbelief. Why do Americans continue to circumcise their sons? It’s not exactly crazy to take this question seriously.

Sincerely,

Brian D. Earp
Research Fellow
University of Oxford

* Since deleted.
** Apologies for my “progaganda-style” use of the term “genital cutting” here, rather than “circumcision”; I was looking for a synonym since I’d already used “circumcision” earlier in the sentence. Since “genital cutting” is a medically accurate as well as value-neutral term, however, I thought this should be OK; and certainly it is a more descriptive choice than the Latin-derived “circumcision” which rather euphemistically draws attention away from what it is that is actually being done.
*** Although my current affiliation is the University of Oxford, I am American, and was born and raised in the United States.

Oct 9
Anonymous fan share:
This is a picture of my husband and son at Children&#8217;s Hospital. He was about a year and a half, and in his hospital gown ready for his circumcision. He was not circumcised at birth, due to a misdiagnosed condition (a twisted foreskin). We were both upset it was not done, because we knew he would have to go through it later on. It was recommended we wait until after his first birthday. I didn&#8217;t know what circumcision really was, only that he was a boy, so it had to be done. No questions asked. The longer I had my son at home, watched him grow, the more I wondered what exactly the point was. Our pediatrician reassured me many times it was absolutely necessary, they just trim off the extra skin and he wont feel a thing. My husband didn&#8217;t want his son to get made fun of in the locker room. I went along with them, because what did I know? I don&#8217;t have a penis! The week before the surgery, I grew extremely nervous. I cried every night asking my husband if he really needed to go through this. (at this point I still had NEVER researched anything about circumcision) We had never received any information about caring for an intact son, but we also had never retracted him, nor had any family members. I just had assumed that was something they had to do when they were older. His penis looked fine to me, I was so nervous what they were going to do to it. The morning we took him to the hospital for the procedure, I was a nervous wreck. When the anesthesiologist came back to get him, she listened to his lungs. She felt like he had a cold/cough coming on and it wasn&#8217;t safe to use anesthesia. She suggested we reschedule when he was feeling better. I had such an amazing sense of relief. That same exact day when we got home, I saw an ad on Facebook that said &#8220;You can never uncut. Research circumcision.&#8221; Let me tell you, after about 30 seconds of my husband and I looking into it, we knew how lucky we were our son had been spared! We agreed almost immediately we would never put our son or any future sons through a circ. I felt so guilty that I had almost let that happen to my child. I also felt extremely betrayed by his pediatrician that I was never shown pictures or told in depth what actually they would be doing to him! Long story short, our son is now 2&#160;1/2, happy intact, and never retracted. What a lucky little boy!

Anonymous fan share:


This is a picture of my husband and son at Children’s Hospital. He was about a year and a half, and in his hospital gown ready for his circumcision. He was not circumcised at birth, due to a misdiagnosed condition (a twisted foreskin). We were both upset it was not done, because we knew he would have to go through it later on. It was recommended we wait until after his first birthday. I didn’t know what circumcision really was, only that he was a boy, so it had to be done. No questions asked. The longer I had my son at home, watched him grow, the more I wondered what exactly the point was. Our pediatrician reassured me many times it was absolutely necessary, they just trim off the extra skin and he wont feel a thing. My husband didn’t want his son to get made fun of in the locker room. I went along with them, because what did I know? I don’t have a penis! The week before the surgery, I grew extremely nervous. I cried every night asking my husband if he really needed to go through this. (at this point I still had NEVER researched anything about circumcision) We had never received any information about caring for an intact son, but we also had never retracted him, nor had any family members. I just had assumed that was something they had to do when they were older. His penis looked fine to me, I was so nervous what they were going to do to it. The morning we took him to the hospital for the procedure, I was a nervous wreck. When the anesthesiologist came back to get him, she listened to his lungs. She felt like he had a cold/cough coming on and it wasn’t safe to use anesthesia. She suggested we reschedule when he was feeling better. I had such an amazing sense of relief. That same exact day when we got home, I saw an ad on Facebook that said “You can never uncut. Research circumcision.” Let me tell you, after about 30 seconds of my husband and I looking into it, we knew how lucky we were our son had been spared! We agreed almost immediately we would never put our son or any future sons through a circ. I felt so guilty that I had almost let that happen to my child. I also felt extremely betrayed by his pediatrician that I was never shown pictures or told in depth what actually they would be doing to him! Long story short, our son is now 2 1/2, happy intact, and never retracted. What a lucky little boy!

(Source: facebook.com)

Oct 8
Oct 8
Oct 8
Oct 7

Starting solids

So we know putting off solids until 6 months is ideal to maintain the health of babies gut flora (links on virgin gut below) but when solids are introduced what is your babies first food??

Avocados are the first food of choice in tho house! -Jackie 

Why Delay Solids?

Virgin Gut: A Note for Parents

The Virgin Gut

Oct 7