Circumcision rates have declined in the US according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The biggest decline was seen in states along the west coast.
Nationwide, 64 percent of male newborns were circumcised in 1979. Thirty-two years later, the number has decreased to 58 percent. In Western states, only 40 percent of newborn male babies are circumcised.
As reported by CBS News, circumcision is often performed as a cultural or religious tradition. Many parents also believe that the procedure will improve hygiene. For some parents, the procedure is purely cosmetic.
Opponents argue that the procedure is medically unnecessary and painful. Numerous organizations have fought against circumcision, referring to the procedure as genital mutilation.
The circumcision rate decline is blamed on conflicting and misleading information. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, has changed their stance more than once.
Throughout the 1970s they spoke out against circumcision, stating that there were no known medical benefits from the procedure. By 2012, the AAP refuted their earlier claim, pointing out that “the medical benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.”
Male children who are not circumcised may have an increased risk of infection. However, proper hygiene usually reduces the risk.
As reported by the CDC, circumcision can lead to complications as well. Like any wound, the incision can become infected. However, with proper care, it is rare. Some men have also noted loss of sensation and sexual satisfaction.
The decision to circumcise a child is very personal. Unfortunately, some insurance companies have taken the decision out of parents’ hands.
In Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington, Medicaid does not cover circumcision. The declining circumcision rates in those states might be caused of lack of availability to low-income families.
Several private insurance companies also refuse to cover the procedure despite the AAP’s recommendation.
Dr. Thomas McInerny, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says circumcision rates have declined as parents are simply “more thoughtful” about the procedure than they were in years past.
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