LONDON (Reuter) - Circumcising baby boys can make them super-sensitive to pain for months, Canadian researchers reported Friday.
But using an anesthetic cream at the time of the operation can reduce the effect, Anna Taddio and colleagues at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children reported in the Lancet medical journal.
The researchers, who first reported in 1995 that the millions of circumcisions carried out on Jewish, Muslim and other boys each year could be traumatic, wanted to see if there was anything doctors could do to make the operations less painful.
Building on the earlier research, they tested 87 babies, dividing them into three groups -- uncircumcised, circumcised without anesthetic and circumcised using a lidocaine-prilocaine cream.
They then videotaped and assessed the infant boys as they got routine vaccinations four to six months later.
``Circumcised infants showed a stronger pain response to subsequent routine vaccination than uncircumcised infants,'' they wrote. But the anesthetic cream lessened the response.
``We recommend treatment to prevent neonatal circumcision pain,'' they added.
Taddio's group theorizes that pain such as circumcision soon after birth somehow re-wires pain response, programming babies to react more strongly.
Article from Mercury Online service, 11:23 AM ET 02/27/97
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