Female genital mutilation (FGM) is almost always performed on children and consequently paediatricians should have a central role in the detection and prevention of FGM. FGM has no health benefits and can cause lifelong damage to physical and psychological health. Extensive migration of FGM practising communities means that FGM is now a global problem. Paediatricians worldwide need to be familiar with the identification and classification of FGM and its impact upon health as well as current trends in practice. However information about FGM is hampered by the secrecy surrounding the procedure and a lack of rigorous evidence based research. This review summarises what is currently known about the health aspects of FGM and how paediatricians should manage children with FGM in their clinical practice.