Infants' Circumcision Rates Declining in United States

First Posted: Apr 02, 2014 10:40 PM EDT

Whether a male is circumcised or not is typically based on cultural and educational factors, which could be changing in the United States. The circumcision rate has declined from 83% in the 1960s to 77% in 2010.

Recent data published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found the decreasing rates of infant circumcision. The overall rate among U.S. males aged 14 to 59 is 81%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts are alarmed by the decline in circumcisions because those who aren't circumcised are at a greater risk for infections and diseases.

"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. "As such, it would be unethical not to routinely offer parents circumcision for their baby boy," he added in this CBS News article.

Male circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring HIV as well as other STDs, penile cancer, and urinary tract infections. It also is advantageous for a male's sexual partner, as it reduces the risk of cervical cancer, genital ulceration, bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and HPV in women.

Morris and his colleagues observed racial differences in circumcision rates as well, which could be contributing to the overall decline in the United States because of the country's diversification over the years. 91% of white men are circumcised, compared to 77% of African Americans and only 44% of Hispanics. The authors speculate that as the Hispanic population continues to rise, circumcision rates will decrease because such families are unfamiliar with the procedure and its benefits.

The authors also concluded that circumcisions exceed the risks by at least 100 to 1. States lacking Medicaid coverage for the poor see an average of 24% less circumcisions. In the near future, if decreases continue to occur at a faster rate, the U.S. as well as medical experts should find a way to educate those unaware of the procedure. A 6% decrease over the course of five decades isn't quite a pressing issue, but it might be a good idea to stop the problem before it worsens.

To read more about the U.S. circumcision rate for infant males, visit this NBC News article.

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