American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Circumcision

The American Academy of Pediatrics' new policy says circumcision should be covered by insurance, and that the health benefits far outweigh any risk.

To circumcise or not to circumcise — that has been the controversial question posed to every parent of a newborn boy for decades in the United States.

Circumcision rates peaked at over 90 percent in 1964, according to Circumstitions.com. Since then the practice has declined in regularity to nationwide estimates that range from 33 percent (MGMBill.org) to 55 percent (CBS News).

Despite circumcision's steep drop in popularity, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) changed its official stance on the procedure on Monday. According to Parenting.com, the AAP is now saying that "the preventative health benefits of infant circumcision clearly outweigh the risks."

In both 1999 and 2005, the AAP remained staunch that circumcision was "not essential to the child's current well-being."

After several years of study, Michael Brady, M.D., chairman of the department of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, said "it’s now obvious there’s a preventative effect" associated with circumcision. 

Namely, circumcision has been shown to be positively correlated with lower HIV rates in heterosexual males in Africa, low HPV rates and smaller risk of contracting syphilis and genital herpes. In addition, studies have shown that circumcised babies are less prone to urinary tract infections, and that the procedure can reduce the risk of penile and prostate cancer later in life. 

Some opponents of circumcision cite decreased sexual pleasure, but according to Parenting.com, "study participants in Africa who had been circumcised as adults reported either no effect or increased pleasure." Other opponents claim the operation is barbaric and unfair to the infant, who has no ability to choose.

Dr. Brady, who serves on the AAP Task Force, suggested that circumcision be included in Medicaid coverage. A study at Johns Hopkins found that opting not to circumcise could cost $313 in related health care expenses to a person over a lifetime. The projected health benefits of circumcision are used to justify the AAP's recommendation for universal coverage for the procedure. 

According to MGMBill.org, just 22 percent of baby boys in California were circumcised in 2010. West Virginia lead the country with a circumcision rate of 86 percent that same year. See MGMBill.org's graphic of circumcision rates by state in the photos above.

What do you think of the AAP's revised stance on circumcision? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think the reported health benefits are enough? Tell us in the comments!

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John Anon August 29, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I was cut as an adult and wish it had been done at birth. You are delusional if you think there's severe harm to sexual function. The AAP spent 5 years reviewing hundreds of studies to come to their conclusion. You on the other hand can't even support the numbers you posed for nerve endings.
John Anon August 29, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Thank you Urology Nurse! You are right on the money. But no evidence, no matter how compelling will convince the anti-circumcision fanatics that there are health benefits to being circumcised at birth.
John Anon August 29, 2012 at 05:39 PM
You and others who claim the AAP based its statement only on the African studies haven't read the report. Table 2 in the report says that 231 articles were included in the topic area of HIV/STI.
tom smith August 29, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Of course the recommend it. It's another billable transaction.
Hans Castorp August 29, 2012 at 06:29 PM
@John Anon The table you refer to doesn't say a word about the geographical location of the studies covered in the articles, or which articles the task force found to be most significant On the other hand, the task force report explicitly contains the following on page e777, as I quoted previously: "Specifically, the Task Force recommends additional studies to better understand the impact of male circumcision on transmission of HIV and other STIs in the United States because key studies to date have been performed in African populations with HIV burdens that are epidemiologically different from HIV in the United States." I don't know how much clearer that can be.


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