Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

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 [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.