Circumcision May Lower Urinary Infection Risk

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Plagiocephaly, sometimes known as "flat-head syndrome," is easily treated in most cases. (Image credit: Vanessa Van Rensburg | Dreamstime)

Uncircumcised boys are at a higher risk for urinary tract infections compared with circumcised boys, a new study finds.

The study involved close to 400 boys ages 3 years or younger who went to the hospital with symptoms of a urinary tract infection. Results showed that about 25 percent of uncircumcised boys had urinary tract infections, compared with 5 percent of circumcised boys.

The findings agree with earlier research showing an increased risk of urinary tract infections among uncircumcised boys.

In the new study, the researchers hypothesized that some uncircumcised boys would have a higher risk of infection than others, depending on normal variations of the male anatomy. Uncircumcised boys with a nonvisible or partially visible urethra opening would have a higher risk of urinary tract infection than uncircumcised boys with a completely visible urethra opening, they suggested. (In general, circumcised boys have a more exposed urethral opening than uncircumcised boys.)

However, the results showed that this was not the case — uncircumcised boys had a higher risk of urinary tract infection, regardless of whether their urethra opening was visible.

The findings suggest doctors should consider a boy's circumcision status alone when deciding which boys presented to the emergency department should undergo investigation for a urinary tract infection, the researchers said.

Of the 393 boys in the study, 40 were uncircumcised and had a visible urethral opening, 269 had a partially or nonvisible opening and 84 were circumcised.

Uncircumcised boys are thought to have a higher risk of urinary tract infection because they have a higher level of bacteria growth under the foreskin, the researchers said. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend for or against circumcision.

The study, conducted by researchers at Montreal Children's Hospital in Canada, is published today (July 9) in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Pass it on:  Uncircumcised boys are at a higher risk for urinary tract infections compared with uncircumcised boys, regardless of whether the urethral opening is visible or not.

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Live Science Staff
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