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Long-term Behavioral Effects of Injury at Infancy: The Case against Circumcision

Aldric Hama


Published: 2004/09/01


Experimental evidence has shown that acute injury in adult animals leads to pain that persists well beyond the period of healing. The underlying mechanism of this persistent pain, lasting weeks or months, is a maladaptive change in the processing of sensory information induced by injury. Thus, subsequent stimuli are abnormally perceived and behavioral responses are highly exaggerated. A similar process occurs in the neonatal animal, which has a functional sensory system and is extremely sensitive to cutaneous stimulation. Superimposing an injury on a neonate will lead to a state of persistent hypersensitivity. Neonatal circumcision may lead to long-lasting alteration of sensory perception and possibly other behavioral disturbances. The risk of long-term changes in behavior outweighs the perceived benefits of circumcision.