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Female genital mutilation in children presenting to a London safeguarding clinic: a case series
  1. Deborah Hodes1,
  2. Alice Armitage1,
  3. Kerry Robinson2,
  4. Sarah M Creighton1
  1. 1University College Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Paediatrics, The Whittington Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Deborah Hodes, Department of Paediatrics, University College Hospital, 250 Euston Road, London NW1 2PG, UK; deborah.hodes{at}nhs.net

Abstract

Objective To describe the presentation and management of children referred with suspected female genital mutilation (FGM) to a UK safeguarding clinic.

Design and setting Case series of all children under 18 years of age referred with suspected FGM between June 2006 and May 2014.

Main outcome measures These include indication for referral, demographic data, circumstances of FGM, medical symptoms, type of FGM, investigations and short-term outcome.

Results Of the 47 girls referred, 27 (57%) had confirmed FGM. According to the WHO classification of genital findings, FGM type 1 was found in 2 girls, type 2 in 8 girls and type 4 in 11 girls. No type 3 FGM was seen. The circumstances of FGM were known in 17 cases, of which 12 (71%) were performed by a health professional or in a medical setting (medicalisation). Ten cases were potentially illegal, yet despite police involvement there have been no prosecutions.

Conclusions This study is an important snapshot of FGM within the UK paediatric population. The most frequent genital finding was type 4 FGM with no tissue damage or minimal scarring. FGM was performed at a young age, with 15% reported under the age of 1 year. The study also demonstrated significant medicalisation of FGM, which matches recent trends in international data. Type 4 FGM performed in infancy is easily missed on examination and so vigilance in assessing children with suspected FGM is essential.

  • Child Abuse
  • Children's Rights
  • Paediatric Practice
  • Race and Health

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