Panel Warns of Risks Posed by Female Genital Cutting

AAP policy statement counsels physicians to dissuade families from pursuing procedure
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Immigrants from areas where female genital cutting (FGC) in infants, children and adolescents is common may request physicians in the United States to perform such procedures, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) opposes all types of FGC that pose physical or psychological risk, and counsels its members not to perform such procedures, according to a policy statement published online April 26 in Pediatrics.

Douglas S. Diekema, M.D., and colleagues on the Committee on Bioethics, 2006 to 2007, write that at least 100 million women are estimated to have undergone FGC, with four to five million procedures being performed each year on infants and children. Since 1996, FGC on females under 18 years of age has been illegal in the United States.

According to the policy statement, the AAP opposes any form of FGC that could result in physical or psychological harm; encourages its members to be informed about and able to recognize FGC; recommends that members dissuade family members from FGC; and advises that its members respectfully educate patients and families about the risks associated with FGC, while staying sensitive to the cultural and religious reasons for desiring the procedure in their daughters.

"Most forms of FGC are decidedly harmful, and pediatricians should decline to perform them, even in the absence of any legal constraints," the authors write. "Efforts should be made to use all available educational and counseling resources to dissuade parents from seeking a ritual genital procedure for their daughter."

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