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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Hans Castorp August 29, 2012 at 07:06 PM
The AAP report indicates that circumcision can lower your chance of getting infected with HIV. Meanwhile, virtually every European country has a significantly lower HIV rate than the US; ditto for China, Japan, and Australia. All places where circumcision is relatively rare.. The AAP task force report is based on studies in sub-Saharan Africa, and contains the following gem: "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." That is, the AAP is throwing it's weight behind slicing the genitals of male infants in the United States based on studies which it admits may not even be applicable! Not really great for their credibility. Then there is the troubling comparison to female genital cutting. In the case of baby girls, would the AAP even dare to conduct studies designed to determine "potential health benefits"? Absolutely not, because girls are rightfully protected by law against ANY form of cutting, even a symbolic ritual nick (as previously recommended by the AAP), with no legitimacy given to arguments based on "potential health benefits", parental choice, religious tradition, etc.
J Hang August 29, 2012 at 08:16 PM
The AAP only released this for insurance purposes it seems. I hope people do real research before mutilating their sons needlessly.


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