We have received a number of emails in regard to the care and cleansing of baby boys’ penises as cited in the story, “The Supermom Transformation,” in the March 2010 issue of Babytalk. We apologize for any confusion related to the subject. For first-time moms, this is a tricky issue, and it is always our goal to provide you with the most clear and accurate information possible because when it comes to caring for your babies, nothing could be more important.
Our story states that “If [the penis] is uncircumcised, it is important to gently tug back his foreskin and cleanse thoroughly.” According to Nancy Silva, M.D., board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), who we used as a resource for this article, “Gently tugging is not the same as retracting. Retraction is forceful pulling back of the foreskin to the base of the glans, which results in unnecessary pain, bleeding, and further adhesions. Gently tugging is the equivalent of sliding it back as far as it can naturally go. In newborn males (birth to 30 days old), this is approximately 1-5 millimeters. Gently tugging/sliding back of the foreskin allows for cleansing of the penis and foreskin and removal of smegma [the normal, white skin cells under the penis].”
We recognize the confusion lies with the word “tug,” which can be interpreted in different ways. We will make every effort to clarify these statements further in the future. According to the Office of the Executive Director of the AAP, gently pushing back the foreskin to clean is OK. The official statement from the AAP regarding the care of an uncircumcised, or otherwise intact, penis – which underscores Dr. Silva’s warning not to retract the foreskin forcefully – can be found on the AAP’s web site, healthychildren.org. We also encourage readers to discuss this subject with their pediatricians.