U.S. Circumcision Rates Are Falling for Baby Boys

newborn baby boyTo circumcise, or not to circumcise…that’s the decision that every parent of a baby boy has to make. It’s a decision my husband and I made twice—and in both cases, we chose not to circumcise our sons. According to a new report, we’re not alone: fewer moms and dads are electing to make the cut these days.

The report, which was published yesterday in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, finds that circumcision rates have fallen to just 77%.

Depending on your personal point of view, of course, you’ll either find a declining circumcision rate good news or worrisome. The authors fall into the latter category, with a press release about the report stating that the study’s authors “found that over their lifetime half of uncircumcised males will contract an adverse medical condition caused by their foreskin.” (Among them: potentially kidney-damaging urinary tract infections, or UTIs.)

Well, yikes. My husband and I agreed pretty much as soon as we found out we were expecting a boy that we didn’t want to circumcise—there was no arguing, just a lot of information-gathering. And after doing research and talking to health professionals, we stuck with our initial gut feeling. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t obsessed over whether or not that was the right choice—and studies like this always make me feel a little panicky that it wasn’t.

I asked Dr. Ari Brown, an Austin, Texas-based pediatrician and author of Expecting 411 and Baby 411, for her take on the news. Here’s what she had to say after reading the press release about the report:

“Based on the data I know exists on the potential health benefts, I will say this: We know that there are some health benefits to circumcision—the biggest being a lower risk of HIV and HPV. And there is very little risk with the procedure. It’s important for parents to be well informed of the risks and benefits to be able to make an informed decision about what to do. Often, parents base this decision on social, cultural, or religious reasons. But, they should be aware of medical reasons as well. But at the end of the day, it is totally up to the parent…or up to the child when he is older to make that choice. I will say that if everyone made safe, responsible choices regarding sexuality, many of the health benefits of circumcision could be prevented.”

Tell us: What’s your view on circumcision?

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Baby Care Basics: Baby First Aid
Baby Care Basics: Baby First Aid
Baby Care Basics: Baby First Aid

Image of a newborn baby boy courtesy of Shutterstock

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