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Italy home circumcision kills child

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A five-month-old boy has died after parents performed a circumcision at their home in Italy, officials say.

The baby was sent to a Bologna hospital in cardiac arrest on Friday night, but died shortly afterwards.

Authorities in the northern Reggio Emilia province have opened an investigation against the parents, who are reported to be of Ghanaian origin.

In a similar case, a two-year-old boy died after a failed circumcision at a migrant centre in Rome in December.

Some 5,000 circumcisions are performed in Italy each year but more than a third are carried out illegally, according to health charity Amsi.

Circumcision is not carried out at public health institutions in the Roman Catholic country.

Many of the country’s immigrants come from Muslim countries where circumcision is commonplace.

Is circumcision safe?

By Michelle Roberts, BBC News Online health editor

Although it is a relatively simple medical procedure, circumcision is not entirely risk-free.

Doctors may recommend that a man or boy is circumcised if he has an unusually tight foreskin, known as phimosis, or suffers from recurrent infections of the foreskin and penis, known as balanitis.

There is also some evidence that men who are circumcised have a lower risk of contracting HIV from HIV-positive female partners.

It is not clear if circumcision reduces the risk of other sexually transmitted infections too, but studies suggest it may lower the chance of catching genital warts caused by a family of viruses called HPV.

The main risks of the surgery are bleeding and infection.

In the UK, the chance of these occurring is between one in 10 and one in 50, according to the NHS website, although that is a figure for older boys and men, not newborns.

How do other European countries compare?

Circumcision is legal throughout Europe, although the practice is becoming more controversial.

A court in Germany passed a local ban in 2012 after the circumcision of a four-year-old Muslim boy led to complications, with the judge saying it “permanently and irreparably changed” the body.

However, the German government later that year clarified that the procedure is legal provided it is performed by trained practitioners.

The following year, the Council of Europe recommended countries take steps to ensure good medical and sanitary practices when performing a circumcision.

And in the UK in 2016, a court ruled that a Muslim father could not have his sons circumcised after their mother disagreed.

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