Wavering Doctoral Advice Leads To Fewer Circumcisions
August 22, 2013

Wavering Doctoral Advice Leads To Fewer Circumcisions

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

A new report from the CDC's  National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) found the rate of hospital circumcisions has declined over the past 30 years.

According to the government report, the percentage of circumcisions for newborn boys in the US has declined by 10 percent overall from 1979 to 2010, with the highest point in 1981 at 64.9 percent and the lowest in 2007 at 55.4 percent.

The report was based on data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS), which has been collecting data on newborn circumcision following birth hospitalization since 1979. It found that circumcision rates fluctuated during the study period, declining during the 1980s and rising in the 1990s, then declining again in the early years of the 21st century.

"These changes occurred during a period of changing guidance on routine newborn circumcision," said Maria Owings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to Owings, the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) task force said during the 1970s that there was no medical indication for routine circumcision of the newborn. However, the organization revised its position in 1989 saying there were potential medical benefits to newborn circumcision, but then revised it again. The AAP said in 1999 that despite potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision, there was insufficient evidence to recommend routine circumcision of newborns.

According to the findings, newborn circumcision rates showed distinctly different patterns across four US census regions. Circumcision rates across the Northeast were flat throughout the study period, with no discernible patterns. In the Midwest, circumcision rates fluctuated according to the national trend. Rates in the South generally increased from 1979 until 1998, and then declined, while rates in the West moved drastically back-and-forth between about 37 percent and 63.9 percent.

The debate on circumcision was resurrected again last year when a study released by John Hopkins University claimed declines in circumcision leads to higher healthcare costs of $4.4 billion. The study links uncircumcised men to an increase of multiple cancers, diseases and infections, which leads to an average increase of $313 over an individual's lifetime.

The AAP released a statement after the John Hopkins University study was published, saying "scientific research shows clearer health benefits to the procedure than had previously been demonstrated." They did add, though, that the benefits of circumcision "are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision."

"According to a systematic and critical review of the scientific literature, the health benefits of circumcision include lower risks of acquiring HIV, genital herpes, human papillomavirus and syphilis. Circumcision also lowers the risk of penile cancer over a lifetime; reduces the risk of cervical cancer in sexual partners, and lowers the risk of urinary tract infections in the first year of life,” said the AAP.