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U.S. Circumcision Rates Dropping, CDC Says

Fewer parents are choosing to have their newborn sons circumcised at the hospital, according to a new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC looked at three different surveys that tracked rates of hospital circumcisions, and found the circumcision rate dropped slightly in all three. From Reuters Health:

In one survey, newborn male circumcision rates fell to 56.9 percent in 2008 from 62.9 percent in 1999. In another, rates of circumcision fell to 54.7 percent in 2010 from 58.4 percent in 2001. In a third, rates fell to 56.3 percent in 2008 from 63.5 percent in 1999.

The CDC said these statistics don't include all circumcisions, since some boys are circumcised in their communities, in religious rituals that take place after they leave the hospital, Reuters reports:

Circumcision is a ritual obligation for infant Jewish boys, and is also a common rite among Muslims, who account for the largest share of circumcised men worldwide.

The wider U.S. population adopted the practice due to potential health benefits, but those advantages have become the subject of debate, including a recent effort to ban circumcision in San Francisco.

This summer, an anti-circumcision group in San Francisco collected more than 7,500 signatures to place a measure banning the practice on the November ballot. A judge blocked the ballot measure, and the California state legislature is currently working to prevent such bans at the local level.

Before these recent decreases, the rate of hospital circumcisions had been rising. "Circumcision rates rose to 61.1 percent from 1997 to 2000 from 48.3 percent in 1988," Reuters reports. The researchers suggest that cost may be one reason for the current drop. From Reuters:

Medicaid coverage may be one factor. A recent study found circumcision rates were 24 percentage points higher in states in which it was routinely paid for compared with hospitals in states that do not cover the procedure.

As of 2009, Medicaid paid for circumcision in 33 U.S. states.

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