Intended for healthcare professionals


Ultra-Orthodox Jews criticised over circumcision practice

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 19 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:137
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

    Representatives from the New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and representatives of ultra-Orthodox Jews are meeting this week to try to resolve a controversy over an ancient circumcision practice called metzitzah b'peh (“suction by mouth”).

    The health department says the practice led to the death of one newborn boy from herpes simplex type 1 and caused brain damage in another. Seven cases of herpes have been linked to the practice since 1998. Three of the five recent cases were traced to one practitioner (called a mohel).

    In metzitzah b'peh, the practitioner removes the baby's foreskin and then sucks blood from the wound to clean it. The practice is used only by a …

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