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Epidemiological surveillance study of female genital mutilation in the UK


Objectives Describe cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) presenting to consultant paediatricians and sexual assault referral centres (SARCs), including demographics, medical symptoms, examination findings and outcome.

Design The well-established epidemiological surveillance study performed through the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit included FGM on the monthly returns.

Setting All consultant paediatricians and relevant SARC leads across the UK and Ireland.

Patients Under 16 years old with FGM.

Interventions Data on cases from November 2015 to November 2017 and 12 months later meeting the case definition of FGM.

Main outcome measures Returns included 146 cases, 103 (71%) had confirmed FGM and 43 (29%) did not meet the case definition. There were none from Northern Ireland.

Results The mean reported age was 3 years. Using the WHO classification of FGM, 58% (n=60) had either type 1 or type 2, 8% (n=8) had type 3 and 21% (n=22) had type 4. 13% (n=13) of the cases were not classified and none had piercings or labiaplasty. The majority, 70% had FGM performed in Africa with others from Europe, Middle East and South-East Asia. There were few physical and mental health symptoms. Only one case resulted in a successful prosecution.

Conclusions There were low numbers of children presenting with FGM and in the 2 years there was only one prosecution. The findings may be consistent with attitude changes in FGM practising communities and those at risk should be protected and supported by culturally competent national policies

  • epidemiology
  • child abuse

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