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Mom-to-be wonders: circumcise or not?

Updated: November 4, 2012 6:06AM

Q. I just found out we’re having a boy! Now we’re debating whether to have him circumcised. What do you think is best?

A. The debate over whether to circumcise is worldwide.

In the United States, circumcision rates have declined sharply. Johns Hopkins researchers say that if rates continue to drop (from 79 percent to 55 percent in the past 10 years), extra and avoidable health care costs may exceed $4.4 billion. And if rates fall as low as in Europe (fewer than 20 percent), an additional 10 percent of U.S. men would be infected with HIV, almost 30 percent more would contract human papillomavirus, close to 20 percent more would be infected with herpes simplex, and more than 200 percent more would get urinary tract infections.

We believe the decision lies with you, the parents, but you deserve the latest medical information to help inform your choice.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ newly released position paper states that the health benefits outweigh the risks.

Furthermore, serious complications are rare when circumcision is done by trained medical professionals using sanitary methods.

Whichever option you choose, you need to follow the proper method for cleaning an infant’s penis. After a circumcision, the AAP says the penis should be washed gently, without any aggressive pulling back of the skin. A non-circumcised penis should be washed with soap and water. As your son grows up, you will need to teach him proper hygiene to keep the foreskin clean.

Q. Why am I so much worse at navigating than my husband? If I turn three corners, I have no idea which direction I’m heading! What can I do to get better at it?

A. The map-reading, direction-asking, car-driving (and -parking) tug-of-war between men and women seems almost universal — even though there are plenty of guys who can’t find their way back home and women who can trek around the world without a map. BUT (yes, there’s always a but) some parts of a man’s brain are larger than a woman’s and contribute to “male” skills such as spatial coordination, math ability, interpretation of 3-D objects and — here it is — a sense of direction. (Women have big advantages in other brain areas that influence verbal and emotional skills.)

Fortunately, you can teach yourself to have a better sense of direction, whether you’re male or female The key: Make yourself super-aware of your surroundings.

Whenever possible, don’t use the GPS. You want to wake up your observational skills, not dull them. Then, use the GPS when you get lost.

King Features Syndicate

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