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Circumcision Rates Down 10 Percent Over 32 Years, Says CDC

First Posted: Aug 22, 2013 03:36 PM EDT

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of circumcision in the United States dropped 10 percent in the past 32 years.

The study found that circumcisions were performed in 64.5 perfect of male newborns that were born in hospitals in 1979. In 2010, this percentage dropped to 58.3 percent.

Results were fluctuating and seemed to be affected by what popular medical publications said at the time.

The highest rate of circumcision was seen in 1981, when 65 percent of newborn males were circumcised. In 2007, only 55 percent of newborns were circumcised, making it the year with the lowest circumcision rate in the entire study.

"I've been in practice for over 40 years, and there wasn't any question about whether to circumcise in the 'good old days' because parents were worried about what might happen in the locker room in middle school or high school," Thomas McInerny, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told "But circumcision is less frequent in Europe and Asia. So, in time, as more immigration has occurred, there are more uncircumcised floating around in locker rooms. So you're not going to get an embarrassing situation."

The CDC's study also examined circumcision rates based on area. The Western area of the United States showed the biggest change in circumcision rates. Western states saw a 37 percent decrease during the time of the study. The area's lowest circumcision rate in the 32-year period was 31.4 percent, which was recorded in 2003.

There are no proven dramatic health differences between circumcising a child versus not circumcising a newborn.

"After a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics found the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision," the American Academy of Pediatrics said on its website. "[T]he final decision should still be left to parents to make in the context of their religious, ethical and cultural beliefs."

Some studies have suggested that circumcision leads to fewer cases of genital warts, HIV, herpes and genital cancers.

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