Royal Baby Circumcision: Will Prince George Be Circumcised?

We've already learned some key facts about the royal baby: his name, his title, his parents' preferred brand of swaddle...

But among the things that remain a mystery: whether Prince George will be circumcised. Kensington And Chelsea Review editor Coco Khan and pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp (author of the Happiest Baby books) joined host Josh Zepps on HuffPost Live to discuss the ramifications of the procedure.

Discussing the history circumcision among Britain's elite, Khan said: "It's a tradition that's about 150 years old, and by British standards, 150 years old isn't a tradition. It started with George I, ... and then it was carried on by Victoria ... [who] basically got it into her head that her children were the sons of David. ... That was carried on and then Diana put a stop to it. So it's very unlikely we're going to be seeing [circumcision] this time around."

Asked why the practice of circumcision persists, Dr. Karp explained: "Traditions are hard to break. ... Now, actually, we're kind of coming into a newer phase where there is medical evidence that has been accumulating that argues that circumcision may be healthier in the long run."

He elaborated: "There have been studies that show that the foreskin can trap viruses, fungus and bacteria underneath it ... [and] that predisposes babies to urinary tract infections and to infections of the head of the penis itself." Studies also suggest circumcision may reduce the risk of venereal disease, he added, although "we don't know absolutely for sure if the cost balances the benefit of it."

The American Academy of Pediatrics's recently revised circumcision guidelines did not outright recommend the procedure, but said parents should have access to the option. Still, the practice remains highly controversial; anti-circumcision activist Georganne Chapin told The Huffington Post when the guidelines were released that the AAP was "out of step," voicing concerns about circumcision's "real risks and harms."

As HuffPost's Catherine Pearson reported at the time:

Major complications from circumcision, including death, were "so infrequent" that the academy excluded them from the review. However, the technical report described possible risks of infant circumcision, relying heavily on two hospital-based studies in the U.S. Those studies found that the most common risks from circumcision were bleeding, infection and penile injury.

Zepps points out that wide interest in Prince George's potential circumcision may just be a lingering part of "royal baby fever." But Khan says that if Prince George is circumcised and the decision is made public, it could to spark a fad: "Everybody's going to be calling it the Prince George."

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