May 14, 2008

From Marilyn Fayre Milos:

Re: Brain’s molecules may tell of child abuse (May 6): This article is certainly important, showing the fragility of the developing brain and the importance of treating our infants and children with love and respect.

Certainly, there are many forms of child abuse, but it’s those in today’s healthcare system, which have become “normative abuse,” that go ignored because healthcare workers often consider harsh treatment of babies normal. It’s not! As a midwife and labor, delivery, and postpartum nurse, the most horrifying things I witnessed in the hospital were done to babies. These things include, placing a screw into the scalp of an unborn baby during birth so a doctor can hear the baby’s heart beat, forceps or suctioned delivery, immediate cutting of the umbilical cord (the baby’s lifeline to oxygen immediately after birth), suctioning, wiping the baby roughly with towels (as if a newborn baby needed cleaning instead of recovery time immediately after birth), separation of mother and baby, and, perhaps, the most cruel intervention of all, circumcision.

Each of the things done to a baby following birth causes a rise in cortisol levels, but none so dramatically as circumcision! How does the flooding of stress hormones affect the developing brain? Perhaps your study tells us.

Certainly, not everyone born in a hospital or circumcised there will commit suicide. However, since circumcision is a non-therapeutic intervention and probably the most damaging in terms of the child’s experience, we can all rejoice in the fact that rates are dropping significantly in those English-speaking countries where circumcision has been practiced since the mid-1800s without medical or religious reason (although there have been excuses used to promote it). Circumcision is a preventable birth trauma! Karl Menninger said, “What we do to children, they will do to society.” Gandhi said, “If we are ever to have real peace, we must begin with the children.” So, our work is not to find ways to erase the problem in the body of a victim of child abuse (although, that’s a good thing to do after the fact), but rather to bring an awareness of the problems caused by abuse of our infants and children and to bring an end to that abuse. Then, we’ll have a different world.

Thank you for your important work.

Marilyn Fayre Milos, RN
Executive Director
National Organization of
Circumcision Information
Resource Centers


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