Circumcision Rates Decline in the U.S.

Fewer Americans are having their baby boys circumcised at birth, according to new data published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. However, the paper also finds that half of all uncircumcised males will, over the course of their lifetime, develop some kind of medical issue related to their foreskin.

The circumcision rate in newborn boys has fallen from 83 percent in 1960 to 77 percent in 2010. Researchers speculate that varying health insurance access has led to some families opting to skip the procedure in order to save money. (Circumcision rates are 24 percent lower in states lacking Medicaid coverage for the poor.)

The study also says the benefits of new born circumcision exceed its risks by 100 to 1, which backs up a 2012 statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics.


"Infant circumcision should be regarded as equivalent to childhood vaccination," said Brian Morris, coauthor of the new report and professor emeritus in the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Sydney, in a press release. "As such, it would be unethical not to routinely offer parents circumcision for their baby boy. Delay puts the child's health at risk and will usually mean it will never happen."

The Mayo Clinic report, as well as other clinical research, has found that circumcision protects infants from a number of complications, including urinary tract infections.

Additionally, circumcision has been found to lowers one's risk for contracting HIV and HPV, the human papilloma virus, which can cause genital warts and has been linked to some cancers.

Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed more than 500 studies, finding that circumcision reduces risk for HIV transmission in heterosexual men by 60 percent, genital herpes by 30 percent, and cancer-causing strains of HPV by 35 percent.