Argument: Circumcision can cause sleep apnea in infants

Issue Report: Infant male circumcision


Rosemary Romberg. “Circumcision – The Painful Dilemma. Chapter Eleven: Complications of Circumcision (Condensed)”. 1985 – Vomiting, Apneic Spells

Apnea (British spelling apnoea) means cessation of breathing, usually for a short period of time. Sometimes normal healthy infants have spells of apnea during sleep and it is of no consequence. However, sometimes this event can be life-threatening.

Fleiss and Douglass report:

A healthy 1-week-old infant had a circumcision done by a well-trained and experienced physician without any anaesthetic. The infant tolerated the procedure well except for excessive crying, which began at the time of the operation. The mother, attempting to soothe her distressed infant, resumed breast feeding after the operation. An episode of vomiting followed the feeding. An apnoeic spell followed the emesis. The infant was taken to a local emergency room and subsequently transferred to [a children’s hospital]. He received a complete septic workup, intravenous antibiotics and hospitalization for five days of observation until the cultures were negative and sepsis was ruled out. The infant was discharged from the hospital six days after circumcision doing very well.

Infants do feel the pain of the surgical removal of the foreskin performed without any anaesthetic, and they respond to the pain by crying. That crying may be excessive. Air may be swallowed. Mothers do soothe their infants by feeding them. Vomiting may follow the feeding. Apnoea may follow vomiting .. 51.

Paul M. Fleiss, MD. “The Case Against Circumcision”. Mothering. Winter 1997 – “Circumcision harms mothers: Scientific studies have consistently shown that circumcision disrupts a child’s behavioral development. Studies performed at the University of Colorado School of Medicine showed that circumcision is followed by prolonged, unrestful non-REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep.”