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Female genital mutilation (FGM) in UK children: a review of a dedicated paediatric service for FGM
  1. Sakaria Ali1,
  2. Roshnee Patel2,
  3. Alice Jane Armitage1,
  4. Hazel Isabella Learner3,
  5. Sarah M Creighton3,
  6. Deborah Hodes1
  1. 1 Department of Paediatrics, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, Brighton and Hove, UK
  3. 3 Department of Women's Health, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Deborah Hodes, Department of Paediatrics, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, London, UK; deborah.hodes{at}


Objective To describe the presentation and management of children with suspected or confirmed female genital mutilation (FGM) referred to a specialist paediatric clinic.

Methods Data collected included referral source, age, ethnicity, circumstances of FGM and clinical findings in accordance with the WHO FGM classification.

Results Between September 2014 and January 2019, 148 children attended the clinic of whom 55 (37.2%) had confirmed FGM. Police or social care referred 112 (76%) children. The proportion of looked-after children (LAC) was significantly higher in the group with confirmed FGM (17/55, 31%) compared with children where FGM was not confirmed (5/93, 5%). In almost all children where FGM was confirmed, FGM was initially disclosed by the child or family (53/55, 96%) and of these 48/55 (87%) underwent FGM prior to UK entry. The remaining seven cases were British children, potentially meeting legal criteria under the FGM Act, and one resulted in a successful prosecution.

Conclusions The number of children with FGM was significantly lower than expected based on UK prevalence estimates. Most children had undergone FGM prior to UK entry, and the majority of cases were initially disclosed by the child or family themselves. These results reflect the lack of large-scale proof of the practice of FGM in the UK and are consistent with growing evidence of the abandonment of FGM among communities after migration.

  • female genital mutilation
  • FGM
  • child abuse

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  • Contributors SC and DH designed the study, reviewed the data and drafted and revised the manuscript. SA and RP designed the data collection system, collected data, carried out data analyses and drafted and revised the manuscript. AJA and HIL carried out data analyses and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available. Given the study’s relatively small numbers, there is an increased risk of potentially identifiable information.

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