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Keywords:

  • breastfeeding;
  • circumcision;
  • longitudinal study;
  • male

Aim:  There have been recurrent claims made that neonatal circumcision disrupts the development and maintenance of breastfeeding in infants. The aim of the current study was to use a longitudinal birth cohort study to examine the associations between neonatal circumcision status and both breastfeeding outcomes, and health and cognitive ability outcomes associated with breastfeeding.

Method:  Data were obtained from the Christchurch Health and Development Study, a longitudinal study of over 1000 individuals born in Christchurch New Zealand in mid 1977. Data were obtained for male cohort members (n = 635) on circumcision status, breastfeeding outcomes, health outcomes in infancy and cognitive ability outcomes later in life.

Results:  Circumcision status was not significantly associated (P > 0.05) with breastfeeding outcomes in infancy, even following adjustment for covariate factors, including maternal age, family socio-economic status, ethnicity and birthweight. Also, circumcision status was not significantly associated (P > 0.05) with health in infancy and cognitive ability outcomes in later childhood, even after adjustment for covariate factors.

Conclusions:  There was no evidence of an association between neonatal circumcision status and breastfeeding outcomes, or between circumcision status and health and cognitive ability outcomes associated with breastfeeding, and the findings do not support the view that neonatal circumcision disrupts breastfeeding.