Circumcision rate has declined over last 30 years in America.
August 26, 2013 : Source – National Hospital Discharge Survey (NCHS-CDC)
The rate of circumcisions performed on newborn boys in US hospitals has steadily declined over the last three decades, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said in a new report. Overall, the national rate dropped about 10 percent, but the numbers varied dramatically by region.
The CDC’s report looked at rates of newborn boys circumcised in hospitals from 1979 to 2010. It’s important to note that since it only includes hospital circumcisions in its figures – and not any performed outside hospitals, such as those done in religious ceremonies – it doesn’t give a complete picture of the rate of circumcision in the US.
In 1979, 64.5 percent of newborn boys were circumcised in hospitals, the report says. Overall, circumcision rates were the highest in the Midwest, with a high of 82.9 percent in 1989 and a low of 68.8 percent in 2009. While the rate stayed flat in the Northeast, the decline was especially steep in the West. Over the 32-year period studied, rates in the West dropped 37 percent, from 63.9 percent in 1979 to 40.2 percent in 2010. The lowest rate recorded over the three decades was in the West, where only 31.4 percent of newborn boys were circumcised in hospitals in 2003.
Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, chairman of pediatrics at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City, said that whether to circumcise an infant is really not a medical decision.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons for the decline in circumcision in America.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics has flip-flopped on the issue, leaving parents confused. The AAP’s position on circumcision has changed a few times over the last 30 years. In general, the national trend reflected the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the CDC said. The AAP has flip-flopped several times on the issue of circumcision. In the 1970s, the AAP’s stated there was no medical indication for routine circumcision of the newborn. The AAP revised its position in 1989, stating there were potential medical benefits to newborn circumcision. In 1999, the AAP revised its stance again, stating that despite potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision, there was insufficient evidence to recommend routine circumcision of newborns. In 2012, the AAP said, while not recommending circumcision, “The AAP believes the health benefits are great enough that infant male circumcision should be covered by insurance, which would increase access to the procedure for families who choose it.”
- Social changes affect parenting choices. Social preferences (and pressures) have changed in the last thirty years with regard to all kinds of parenting choices, and things that used to be reserved for private conversations are now publicly debated in the blogosphere, on Facebook, and on Twitter. For better or worse, all that media focus does make it easier to talk about certain things with other parents. Parents are better informed on the issue due to readily available information on the internet. Many parents are also shocked to watch the horror on infant circumcision broadcast on sites such as YouTube.
- Parents return to a more natural approach to child raising. Many parents want to keep things as “natural” or “organic” as possible for their kids. At the same time that circumcision rates were declining, breastfeeding rates were increasing. In 1986, for example, 54.1 percent of US babies were breastfed. By 2002, the rate had jumped to 73.3. The CDC says that in 2013, the number is 76.5. At the same time, organic food sales continue to increase. Since circumcision is an elective procedure, it may not mesh with many parents’ desires to keep things natural.
- As the rate declines, parents are more comfortable with keeping babies intact. Expecting parents may have discussions with other parents that have already left their son intact. After finding our that intact baby boys are thriving, parents have an increased comfort level that their son will also be healthier and happier intact. As more boys are left intact, parents also have less fear that their son will “look different” in the locker room. In fact, based on the statistics, circumcised boys will soon be in the minority, and may be the odd ones in the locker room.