In 2007 I did an undergraduate research project correlating geographical incidence of three male-prevalent neurological disorders, ADHD, ASD, and Alzheimer's, with geographical prevalence of neonatal circumcision in the U.S. It's obviously been about four years since I did this investigation, and I still have my papers--but they are filed under a heap of boxes as I've moved several times since then.

The procedure I used was to access the neonatal circumcision rates for 26 states that participated in the 1995-2005 CDC/NHDS/HCUP surveys, and rank them in order of neonatal circumcision frequency as a percentage of population, 1 to 26. (The midwestern states like Michigan and West Virginia had the highest rates, and the western states like Oregon, California, and Nevada had the lowest rates.) I also found data for these 26 states regarding incidence of the three neurological disorders. I broke the 26 states into two groups, 13 highest circumcision rates, and the 13 lowest circumcision rates and computed averages for each disorder for both the high and low circumcision-rate groups.

Once I had the disorder averages for each group, I divided the high circ group disorder percentage by the low circ disorder percentage to get a ratio, high to low.

What provoked my study was the blog or posting of an anti-circ nurse who stated that she thought there might be a correlation between autism and neonatal circumcision (as autism is highly male-prevalent). Her thoughts actually got me thinking about circumcision and male-prevalent neurological disorders like autism and ADHD. I did find that there was a fairly significant correlation between neonatal circumcision and autism, as the ratio I found was about 1.10.

I hope you can see that if the disorder incidence was the same in both the high-circ and the low-circ groups, the ratio should be exactly 1.00. The 1.10 ratio for autism spectrum disorder was highly correlative. But the ratio for ADHD, nearly 1.50 was far more convincing and alarming. This finding still gives me chills.

The high-rate circumcision states were reporting roughly three ADHD diagnoses (on a population-percentage basis) for every two diagnoses (on a population-percentage basis) in the low circ-rate states. These results hit me like dynamite, and I felt (and still feel) that these results demonstrate that neonatal circumcision is profoundly traumatic and detrimental to the neurological health of males--and probably a significant contributing factor, not only to ADHD, but probably also to additional neurological disorders like tourettes as well. [For a long time, many people thought tourettes was a gene-specific disease common mainly among Ashkenazi Jews until tourettes began turning up massively in other circumcising, non Ashkenazi cultures (namely the U.S. general population). My results indicate at least the possibility that tourettes actually has more to do with a traumatic circumcision technique that slices away the prepuce to the base of the glans than with a genetic disorder.]

By the way, I found a very slightly negative correlation with Alzheimer's, a ratio of about 0.98, meaning that Alzheimer's and neonatal circumcision had almost no correlation.

The results of my undergraduate research project (URP) were minimized by some of the professors who attended my presentation, as they stated that correlation is not the same as causation. My results were also criticized because I didn't analyze for statistical significance.

My reflection is that where there is smoke there is often fire. A more exhaustive study, involving specific, longitudinal case histories (several pairs of identical twins, one circumcised, one not, for example), might convince people that there is direct causation. In my perhaps prejudiced opinion, the correlations that I obtained were scientific, objective, and highly indicative of a direct link between neonatal circumcision and ADHD, probably also with ASD but not in the same dramatic fashion.

(Please feel free to publish the above report at your website, or launch your own investigation based on my approach.)

Best wishes,

Addendum from John to this post:

I'm afraid I come out looking a little like a Mengele when I suggested that longitudinal studies on identical twins might confirm causality. Although the theory in my suggestion is almost certainly correct, it would be absolutely unethical to conduct such an experiment on people (a point I failed to mention in my submission). I suppose such tests might be conducted on animals like mice or rabbit litters, but even this idea seems inhumanely cruel to me. I would far rather kill an animal outright than mutilate it sexually.


tqoe62 said...

This doesn't surprise me in the least. Circumcision alters brain chemistry. Those affects are permanent and need more studies.
Common since and logic aren't enough to convince people not to hurt their ow children. So we need to show them that the harm is more serious than they think it is.

roger desmoulins said...

Your work sheds a bit of light on my long standing claim that the USA does no credible research on the possible long run adverse consequences of RIC.

I am stunned by what you report re Tourette's. I had never heard that once upon a time, its sufferers were mostly Jewish.

TO study Alzheimer's, you need data on the circ rate in the period 1910-40, which we don't have. I am very confident that there is no correlation between Alzheimer's and the RIC rate today.

That the autism spectrum mainly afflicts boys is very curious and disturbing. With ADHD, you may be on to something.

Good luck finding identical twins where one was circed and the other was not.

If your data is from an entire population, and not based on a sample of a larger population, then much of the technical apparatus of statistical theory is of questionable relevance. Moreover, given enough data, any numerical difference between treatments and controls will be found "significant." A p value is all too often just another metric for sample size.

Erin said...

I was actually laying in bed the other night and this thought popped in to my head out of nowhere... then I scrolled through my blogger dashboard tonight and saw this.... makes sense to me.
I was just thinking about how much higher the incidence of those disorders is in males... and the possible connection.
Hoping someone might be able to dive in to this a bit more!

Becky said...

There have been studies that suggest that there may be a relationship between anemia/Oxygen deprivation and circumcision (a cursory search on your search engine of choice will probably reveal something). With that in mind it makes perfect sense that the surgical procedures and risks associated with circumcision could bring about an anemia in children that could lead to lasting mental problems (ignoring the trauma of the procedure itself).

People like to point out that the rates of autism/ADHD are rising while circumcisions are falling but it would be interesting to see if the boy/girl ratio is remaining constant. If anemia is the cause then other birthing procedures such as early cord clamping, and use of pitocin to augment labor and even possibly use of certain supplements in pregnant mothers might keep the rates up regardless of children's gender.

Anonymous said...

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Unknown said...

I'm glad I'm not alone in thinking that something so traumatic and damaging could of course adversely affect brain chemistry in a newborn. I've also looked at studies questioning the 'routine' medical interventions during labor and birth, mainly synthetic oxytocin, and epidurals (and other analgesics). Thank you for posting this, I would love to read the original paper too.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt in my mind that my "Tourette's Syndrome, OCD, ADHD, Asthma, Depression, and Insomnia" are the outcome of being brutally mishandled as a baby. Circumcision is traumatic and bloody and I'm not bullshitting when I make the claim that IT STILL HURTS. My environment and education regiment certainly influenced the onset of my most peculiar behaviors, but without circumcision, I wouldn't be crazy (and neither would be my father).

That said, have hope. A future day without genital mutilation may be coming soon - and with it, much less craziness. If this awful and misguided ritual already happened to you, STILL HAVE HOPE. The fact that it's not genetic like you once may have thought means that you have much to learn about who you really are. THE SPIRIT which contains your body and the universe itself is RENEWABLE. You are suffering because of events in the past. Try putting them behind you. Now is the time generate a NEW FUTURE for yourself that is calm and collected. You can find the way - you're not the only one looking!!

Specific advice that I have to begin with:
There are practices of the breath and body that can dramatically change your body-brain chemistry for the better. Find teachers or teach yourself DEEP BREATHING. Eat fresh local organic food - as many vegetables as possible. If you are addicted to junk food, fade it out as you introduce good stuff. Juicing/blending vegetables, nuts, seeds, and herbs is a great way to replenish your supply of nutrients to start repairing your compromised immune/digestive system (none of theses disorders come without stomach problems). The healthier we can get your gut, the more independent you will become of your "alphabet-soup" family of disorders.

Also - on another frontier of healing - the medical advancements with this drug will enhance its safe application in time, but even as things currently are, do not discount the potential therapeutic administration of cannabis. The known effects that the drug has on victims of PTSD sheds new light on the high use of the drug amongst American boys. Misuse of the drug is common in a time when it is criminal, but take it from a TICCER, getting high and discovering your body is the best thing you or your friend could do to make progress with his physical entrapment. Laugh, be positive, follow your dreams. This is the only way I know of to transcend this spiritual labyrinth.

You don't have to call it God, but accepting a higher power is a difficult and important step for those who struggle the most. At least find room in your heart for this: the universe wants you to win! And when millions of people with Tourette Syndrome suddenly become quiet and sit still, we will find ourselves occupants of a very different world!

Practice this prayer:

Creation/Creator, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

And regarding those who harm others:
"Forgive them father, they know not what they've done"

There is so much more, but already now YOU ARE EMPOWERED WITH INFORMATION. Protect it and use it!!!

questions/collaborative interests:

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful for the author to address the link between autism and circumcision. It's even more important when you compare the circumcision rates and prevalence of autism and I'd be inclined to believe that autists in USA are probably a few times more likely if they are circumcised, signifying that a big number of children became autists due to specific and intentional interventions in their youth, not just because of their genetics.

I wanted to do a study at my own university but they denied me the funds and banned such study. My study aimed to take specific birth dates within several cities and compare the prevalence of autism among circumcised and uncircumcised males, a direct comparison.
My another part was to compare that specific date to newer generations who were given paracetamol and then took the vaccination. Unfortunately, no medical university would risk to fund such study and they explicitly warned me about troubles that I'll experience if I try to make any connections.

My major claim is something that's whispered among many experts and I wanted to test their hidden concerns, if using paracetamol with subsequent MMR vaccination is what causes the new increase of autism among children, most importantly among circumcised boys. I guess the safety of these boys is just as irrelevant as it is to have the choice whether to circumcise or not!