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Religious Circumcision Ritual Leaves 2 Brooklyn Infants With Herpes

April 13, 2013 by  


By Reuven Blau / New York Daily News  

baby

Two Brooklyn baby boys (not pictured) became sick after the centuries-old, ultra-Orthodox ritual associated with the bris known as metzizah b’peh.

Two Brooklyn infants have contracted herpes through a controversial religious circumcision ritual in the past three months, according to the city’s Health Department.

The unidentified baby boys became sick after the centuries-old, ultra-Orthodox ritual associated with the bris known as metzizah b’peh.

Under the practice, the rabbi or mohel removes blood from the wound on the baby’s penis with his mouth — a practice city Health Department officials have slammed, saying it carries “inherent risks” for babies.

The Bloomberg administration has moved to require mohels who perform the ritual to provide parents with a document informing them of the health risks involved. The parents must then sign a consent form.

But several influential religious Jewish organizations have sued, arguing the policy violates the First Amendment.

In January, a federal judge ruled against the group’s initial legal maneuver to block the new city policy.

“As enacted, the regulation does no more than ensure that parents can make an informed decision whether to grant or deny such consent,” said judge Nami Reice Buchwald.

City health officials say babies can contract herpes from the practice, citing 13 cases — two fatal — since 2000.

In September 2011, a 2-week-old boy died at a Brooklyn hospital after contracting herpes through the ritual, city officials said.

In the latest case, city health officials say one of the babies infected survived after developing a fever and lesion on its scrotum following the circumcision. The parents did not sign a consent form and it’s unclear who performed the circumcision.

rblau@nydailynews.com

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