Thursday, June 3, 2010

Keeping Baby healthy through surgery: Narectomy

Pursuant to the eradication of all childhood disease and the discouragement of actions considered to be socially distasteful, a new treatment has been developed for the health and welfare of newborns and young babies: narectomy.

Research has determined that the arching cartilaginous structures that form the nostrils (nares) are most likely vestigial and of relatively little biological use today. Particularly in young children, they serve as a wellspring of mucosal secretions that tend to overflow, slimy and stretchy at a wet consistency and crusty and flaky at a drier. This leads to considerable parental inconvenience in keeping the nares clear for proper respiration (contributing to "mouth breathing" if the secretions are too prolific or left alone too long), and derogatory, anti-child phrases such as "snot-nosed kids" that can impact a child's self-esteem, or an adult's desire to become a parent. Drying and crusting mucus also lead to socially inappropriate behaviors like nose picking, and eating or depositing (often on walls, tables, and under desks) of these "boogers".

The nares can also harbor and distribute vast quantities of bacteria and viruses. Influenza, the common cold, allergens and other pathogens congregate inside the nostrils, resulting in infection. Any of these causes can create irritation of the membranes inside the nose, forcing a sneeze reflex that can launch material several feet at alarming speed to infect unsuspecting adults and child. The ability of a single child with "the sniffles" to spread contagion through a population is a well-documented cause of disease.

As a result of these undesirable challenges to daily life, parents may now choose to have their newborn's nostrils "trimmed" or removed entirely for a reasonable fee that is covered by most or all insurance companies. Narectomy will also simplify to process of keeping sinuses open and clear of infection. With proper care, the site will heal within approximately the same amount of time as the umbilical stump, with a lifetime of easy breath to look forward to. This procedure may also reduce incidence of snoring in adulthood, making people with the benefit of narectomy more pleasant to sleep in the same room with.

There may be some loss of smell, but this is estimated to be marginal and will never be missed, as much of this sense is accomplished in the sinus cavity and the tissues above the soft palate, which is unaffected by the procedure. Some children may encounter curious comments because their peers look different from them, but if you inform and empower your child early with the knowledge that you love them and you have provided them with the very best care and have always done what you know is best for them, they will have the confidence to easily give an appropriate response to bring them out on top. In fact, there is no doubt that as the public becomes more aware of the benefits of narectomy, we can all look forward to a future where all children enjoy lives free of the dysfunctions associated with an intact nose.

Sounds ridiculous, right?  Who in their right mind would cut off healthy pieces of their brand new child's beautiful face (arguably the singular area of the body most closely tied with sense of self and identity) just so they don't have to wipe snot or teach not to pick boogers.  Who would hamper a child's immune system by leaving an orifice completely open to the outside world without the protection of nose hair and mucus?  Who would deny their child full use of a sense for their own convenience, or in the hopes that they won't sneeze, get colds, or snore as adults?

No one.  Unless there was an inescapable medical reason for amputation, Child Protective Services would get called on a parent who had such a procedure performed on a newborn as a cosmetic alteration.  Even in the event of a medical need for such surgery, great expense and effort would be made to reconstruct and restore what was taken. 

But there are benefits, aren't there?  Sure, maybe some of the claims made above are exaggerated and a few are complete fallacies, but...  No, you can't really justify excising a child's nostrils.

So why do we--speaking of secular English-speaking cultures--persist in carrying on the practice of infant male circumcison?  Benefits of cleanliness, ease of care, cosmetic appearance, disease prevention, and more are frequently circulated as justification, but the fact remains: Circumcision removes highly vascular (lots of little blood vessels), highly sensitive (lots and lots of nerve endings), functional, useful, healthy tissue from arguably the area of the body most closely tied with a male's sense of masculine identity.  Without giving the penis owner a choice.  Without asking for consent he is also unable to give.  It is an act of mutilation that removes approximately one-third of what would otherwise become mature penile tissue, can alter brain function/cause brain damage, hamper the ability to bond or breastfeed, can lead to sexual dysfunction, and can even result in death (something you will almost never be informed of by a doctor.)

We are doing better: 56% in 2005 compared to 70+% in previous decades.  However, it's still more than half.  It's too many.  Why?  "So he looks like Dad" and "so he doesn't get infections" are not sufficient excuses to do this to your baby. (Warning: Graphic video with sound.)  Children are not exact replicas of their parents; no other permanent, surgical alteration is made to attempt replication.  Children get infections (even chronic ones) in lots of places that we don't cut up to prevent them.  The logic does not hold.

Girls are spared from this indignity in our society.  Boys should be, too.  Let's do better.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage