Ontario infant dies after circumcision

CANWEST NEWS SERVICE, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ontario infant dies after circumcision

Mark Brennae
© CanWest News Service

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2007

OTTAWA—A one-week-old Ontario infant died from complications after undergoing a circumcision in a provincial hospital.

Information about the case was published in the April edition of Paediatric Child Health.

The baby, whose name has been withheld by the parents, passed away after his bladder became enlarged to seven times their normal size.

The child was born at an unidentified Ontario hospital "sometime in the last three years," said Dr. Jim Cairns, Ontario's deputy chief coroner. "The family wants to keep this anonymous."

No charges were ever laid and no legal action was ever taken in the case.

According to the Paediatric Child Health article, the boy was "bottlefed and was reported to be doing well when he was circumsized."

Five hours later, the parents returned to their family doctor with the infant, who had become "irritable and had blue discoloration" below the belly button.

Doctors noticed the discoloration and slight swelling of the penis, but sent the child home.

Fourteen hours after the circumcision, according to Cairns, the child was brought to another hospital where doctors noted he was extremely irritable with marked swelling of the penis and bruising to the scrotum.

The child was then transferred to a paediatric centre, where his bladder was diagnosed, Cairns said, to "seven or eight times its normal size."

The PlastiBell ring, which is used to hold back the foreskin after circumcision, was removed and drained and the child went into shock.

"If the PlastiBell had been taken off five hours after he got there, he would be alive," said Cairns.

The child's death was attributed to septic shock—"an overwhelming infection, leading to multi-organ failure," Cairns said.

"Death is rare after circumcision," said Cairns. "But complications can happen."

The case was brought to Cairns's attention because the circumstances of every death of an Ontario child under five years of age must be reviewed by the provincial coroner's office.

© CanWest News Service 2007


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