Researchers warn against oral suction during circumcision

By PAUL LUNGEN Staff Reporter

An ancient procedure that is part of ritual circumcisions, and which has been found to spread herpes and other dangerous illnesses is still used in Toronto, though infrequently.

Oral metzitzah, the practice in which a mohel sucks blood from an infant’s circumcised penis, has been supplanted by more hygienic and effective ways of cleaning the wound, said Dr. Aaron Jesin, a Toronto-based mohel. While metzitzah remains a required part of the circumcision ritual, most practitioners employ a glass tube to clean the wound, he said.

However, there are groups in Toronto today who continue to employ mohels who use oral metzitzah, said Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Lowy, a spokesman for the Orthodox Va’ad Harabonim in Toronto. “Those in the Torah world, the yeshiva world, use the procedure, unless there’s a problem,” he said.

Last month, a group of researchers in Canada and Israel published a report in the medical journal Pediatrics, which found eight babies who were infected with the herpes virus likely contracted their illnesses through oral metzitzah. Most of the infants were found in Israel but one, who was circumcised in 1994, was from Toronto. [more…]

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