Research shows that circumcision is associated with a significant reduction in risk of recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Recurrent UTIs experienced early in life can lead to renal and hypertensive disease in addition to making your little one feel miserable and suffer the pain of infection.
At First Pediatric Care Center in Gastonia, North Carolina, Margaret Lubega, MD, stresses the importance of circumcision and regularly performs the procedure on babies. In fact, circumcision impacts the rate of UTIs and offers several other health protective benefits.
What is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enters the urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys. UTIs are often associated with girls and women, but they’re common in uncircumcised boys. A child with recurrent UTIs is at risk of developing kidney damage.
How do I know my boy has a UTI?
UTI symptoms include fever and chills as well as pain while peeing. Young children may not be able to articulate this pain, so also look for:
- Changes in the appearance or smell of a child’s pee
- Changes in frequency of urination
- Loss of appetite
- Lower abdominal or lower back pain
A UTI can also make a boy wet their pants or the bed, even if this has never been a problem in the past. Very young children (babies) may have vomiting and diarrhea and a decrease in activity.
Why is an uncircumcised penis a risk factor for recurrent UTIs?
It’s easier for bacteria to accumulate under the foreskin (or prepuce) and in the urethra in uncircumcised boys. It’s more difficult to keep the penis tip of a baby or toddler exceptionally clean if they’re not circumcised. And, even if regularly washed and cleansed, the area can still attract pathogens that lead to infection.
The severity of a urinary tract infection depends on the type of pathogen, the boy’s specific anatomy, and their personal health history. In some cases, UTIs may require hospitalization.
How can I protect my boy from UTIs?
One major step is to get your baby circumcised within 10 days of birth. You should also take care to change his diaper often. Then when he transitions to cloth underwear, give him cotton versions. Also make sure your child takes regular bathroom breaks. Urinating every 3-4 hours helps keep the urinary tract clear of bacteria.
What are the other benefits of circumcision?
Circumcision can also protect your child from future (adult) infection with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus and herpes simplex virus. Circumcision reduces syphilis and human papillomavirus (HPV) transmission. A circumcised man is less prone to developing penile cancer and also protects future female partners from cervical cancer and bacterial vaginosis.
Some people also have their baby circumcised for religious, cultural, or social reasons. Often circumcision is performed in the hospital, but Dr. Lubega can also perform the procedure in her office.
If you’re not sure whether you want to circumcise your baby, Dr. Lubega can offer some guidance. She can help you understand all the health benefits it affords your child and what to expect during the procedure. Call today for your in-person or telemedicine appointment, or use the online tool to schedule.