A mother holds her newborn baby in her arms and smiles.
A new baby boy’s parents must typically make a decision on circumcision before they leave the hospital. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

After your baby is born, the many decisions begin.

Let’s talk about one decision for baby boys: circumcision.

Vitamin K is helpful in baby boys who are circumcised. We are, however, seeing less circumcision for baby boys than in years past. I also notice more questions from parents about information regarding whether or not it’s necessary. It is something parents need to think about.

Let’s start with a little background.

The current rate of circumcision in the Midwest is 75 percent. For Michigan, the rate was about 83 percent in 2012. A study done in 2007 by the CDC said the rate was 79 percent in U.S. males. The lowest rating was Nevada, at 10 percent.

About one-third of males in the world get circumcised. We also know states with Medicaid coverage have a 24 percent higher rate of circumcision.

For some, the decision is based on religious reasons. For others it’s because dad is or isn’t, and they want junior to be like dad.

“The benefits of male circumcision have become more and more clear over the last 10 years,” stated Dr. Aaron Tobian, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a release from the school. “Our economic evidence is backing up what our medical evidence has already shown to be perfectly clear.

“There are health benefits to infant male circumcision in guarding against illness and disease, and declining male circumcision rates come at a severe price, not just in human suffering, but in billions of health care dollars as well,” Dr. Tobian stated.

Babies are typically circumcised before they leave the hospital. You’ll need to sign a consent form.

One question I have been asked often: Is anesthesia used? Yes, it is.

At Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, we take our baby boys to an area in our nursery to do the procedure, then they are taken right back out to the mom’s room. The new parents will learn how to take care of the circumcision while in the hospital.

Here are some things to know about care for your son’s circumcision:

  • A crust or coating may appear on the head of the penis; don’t try to take it off.
  • The penis may be slightly discolored or swell a bit.
  • Your baby may cry at first when he urinates.
  • It will heal in one to two weeks.
  • If needed, gently clean with warm water during a diaper change.
  • Use a soft cloth.
  • Change diapers often.

You should contact your doctor if:

  • The penis is very red or swollen.
  • Your son has a fever.
  • Drainage continues after one week.
  • Bleeding cannot be stopped by applying gentle pressure.