It is every parent’s nightmare to hear the news that their newborn or infant needs to have a medical procedure done. Sometimes, however, the procedures are elective, and it is up to the parents to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. Here are five common elective procedures for infants.
Common elective procedures for babies
Circumcision is the surgical removal of some of the foreskin that covers the end of a penis. Parents have a multitude of reasons for choosing to have their sons circumcised. Most commonly, boys are circumcised for religious reasons. For example, the Islamic faith and Judaism require that boys be circumcised.
Circumcision could also be carried out due to its medical benefits. Some studies show that men who are circumcised have a reduced risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. Circumcised men also have a decreased risk of penile cancer. However, circumcision is not without its risks, such as bleeding and infections.
A cleft lip is when the skin and bones of the upper jaw, mouth, and nose do not fuse entirely during the early weeks of pregnancy. While doctors do not know all of the causes of cleft lips or cleft palates, the evidence shows that genetics and environmental causes can be contributing factors.
While a cleft lip can cause issues with suckling, eating, and breathing, repairing a cleft lip is not always necessary, and thus considered an elective procedure. Nevertheless, most parents choose to repair a cleft lip with cheiloplasty surgery at around three months of age.
It is believed that 47% of babies will develop flat spots on their skulls. These flat spots are usually the result of a baby sleeping in the same position. However, they could also be caused by the birth canal causing irregular shaping of the skull during birth.
Most of the time, the flat spots have no medical risks and are merely a cosmetic issue. However, some parents elect to correct the spots before the skull is fully fused. Unfortunately, once the skull is fused, it is often too late to fix the shape of the skull with head shaping therapy. Head shaping therapy involves using a baby head shaping helmet (which the baby wears for a couple of months) to encourage the skull to grow in a more even way.
Mole and birthmark removal
Birthmarks and moles are often not harmful but can affect a person’s physical appearance. Sometimes, birthmarks affect a baby’s health. Laser therapy, medications, or surgery can be used to remove any unwanted spots, whether they are harmful or not.
Ear tube surgery
It is believed that five out of six children will have had an ear infection at least once by their third birthday. Even though ear infections are prevalent in young children, some children are more susceptible to recurring infections.
For infants suffering from chronic ear infections, ear tube surgery could be recommended. During this elective procedure, a surgeon pierces the eardrum and inserts a small tube. The tube helps to drain fluid out of the ear and regulate the pressure inside and outside of the ear. This is a fairly straightforward procedure and only takes about 15 minutes.
Parents often choose to have their children undergo elective procedures for cosmetic or religious reasons. While most of these procedures carry minimal risk, talking to a paediatrician is still worthwhile.