The effects of circumcision on serum cortisol and behavior

Megan R. Gunnar, Robert O. Fisch, Sherry Korsvik, John M. Donhowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


(1) Circumcision (Gomco clamp method) produced 3- to 4-fold increases in serum cortisol concentrations at 30 min in 3- to 5-day-old human neonates. (2) Increases in serum cortisol concentrations were positively related to the neonates' state of behavioral arousal during circumcision. (3) Neonates given a pacifier to suck on during circumcision showed significantly less distress (crying). (4) Behavioral arousal during circumcision was inversely related to behavioral arousal in the half hour following circumcision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-275
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1981

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Michael Steffen, Lorna R. Tittl and Linda Turner for their invaluable assistance during this project. This research was supported by Research Grant 432-0100-4909-02 from the University of Minnesota Graduate School to Megan R. Gunnar and by a grant from the Julie Nelson Foundation to Robert O. Fisch.


  • Pituitary-adrenal
  • circumcision
  • cortisol
  • human neonates
  • neonatal state


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