Katz: study linking circumcision to autism ‘unconvincing’

Katz: study linking circumcision to autism ‘unconvincing’

Richard Ferrer has become a leading voice on Jewish communal issues since becoming editor of the Jewish News in 2009, writing about contemporary Jewish life for a national audience. He edited the Boston Jewish Advocate, America's oldest Jewish newspaper and created the Channel 4 series Jewish Mum of the Year.

By Richard Ferrer, Editor Jewish News 

A senior clinician has branded a report linking male circumcision with autism as “far from convincing” after a Danish study on the effects of pain associated with circumcision in very young babies.

Researchers focused on the effects of the pain from the injury

Prof. David Katz, Professor of Immunopathology at University College London and chairman Milah UK said “correlation does not equal causation” and that there had been a “long history of attempts to link Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to unrelated practices… which proved to be fraudulent”.

The rebuke comes after the publication of 20 year research by Prof. Morten Frisch of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen. It follows recent animal findings linking “a single painful injury to lifelong deficits in stress response” and a study “showing a strong, positive correlation between a country’s neonatal male circumcision rate and its prevalence of ASD in boys”.

Katz said: “This report is far from convincing.” He cited environmental toxins, the genetics of faith communities and abnormalities in brain structure/function as possible facts “which do not appear to have been explored”.

Today boys are seldom circumcised without proper pain relief but pain is not completely eliminated, and some boys still endure strongly painful procedures, which the researchers focused on.

Frisch’s team followed the effects of circumcision on over 340,000 boys between 1994 and 2013. Among this group, almost 5,000 cases of ASD were diagnosed “regardless of cultural background”. Researchers also unexpectedly observed “an increased risk of hyperactivity disorder” in the circumcised boys.

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