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Hospital circumcision rate continues to fall


Fewer newborn boys are being circumcised at birth. In fact, the national rate of newborn circumcision declined 10% over the 32-year period from 1979 to 2010.


Fewer newborn boys are being circumcised at birth. In fact, the national rate of newborn circumcision declined 10% over the 32-year period from 1979 to 2010.

Whereas almost two-thirds (64.5%) of newborn boys were circumcised during birth hospitalization in 1979, the rate was barely more than half (58.3%) by 2010. The lowest rate occurred in 2007 with only 55.4% undergoing the procedure.

The report comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Using data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey, researchers noted that the national rate tended to fluctuate over the time period in relation to official health recommendations. In the 1970s, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said no medical indication existed for routine newborn circumcision. In 1989, AAP revised its position, saying potential medical benefits did exist. And in 1999, AAP said that despite potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision, insufficient evidence existed to recommend the procedure routinely. 

The investigators also found regional trends. In the Northeastern United States, the rate remained rather constant over the 32-year period, whereas in the Midwest the rate fluctuated in a pattern similar to that of the national rate. In the South, the rate generally increased from 1979 to 1998, and then declined.

The Western states had the greatest changes. The newborn circumcision rate decreased 37% from 63.9% in 1979 to 40.2% in 2010. Most of the decrease occurred during the 1980s, with the rate dropping to 41.0% in 1989. The rate continued to decrease through 2010, with a low of 31.4% in 2003.

As of 2012, AAP’s official position is that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks of the procedure, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all newborn boys, ultimately leaving the decision to parents in consultation with their child’s doctor.

Circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections in infants and the risk of penile cancer and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV in men.



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