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Circumcising Babies Increases Risk Of Cot Death, According To Study

(JTA) — A genetics scholar from Israel published a study claiming that circumcision of boys increases the risk of cot death, but a prominent Dutch pediatrician dismissed his findings as “nonsense.”

The study that Eran Elhaik of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom published last month states that the global perseverance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, and non-medical circumcision of very young boys “are strongly and significantly correlated.”

An increase of 10 percent in the prevalence of such circumcision “is associated with an increase of 0.1 per 1,000 SIDS cases,” states the study titled “Adversarial childhood events are associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.”

The results are based on a study comprising 15 countries and over 40 U.S. states during the years 1999-2016. Elhaik’s team looked at the relationships between SIDS and what the researchers said was two common causes of stress in very young infants: Male neonatal circumcision and premature birth.

In the United States, circumcision accounted for some 14.2 percent of the prevalence of SIDS in males, the researchers wrote, adding that this is “reminiscent of the Jewish myth of Lilith, the killer of infant males.” Prematurity makes babies three times likelier to die of SIDS than babies that had spent nine months in the womb, according to the study.

Hugo Heymans, one of the Netherlands’ foremost pediatricians who for decades had worked at the Amsterdam Academic Medical Center, dismissed Elhaik’s study as “flawed, biased and unreliable,” the Reformatorisch Dagblad daily reported earlier this week.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at fisher@forward.com, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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