For the past decade, the percentage of male infants who were circumcised in the hospital has remained at about 56 percent, the lowest percentage recorded since records began in 1979.
Parents often choose to circumcise their infant sons because of religious, cultural, or health reasons. Some research shows that circumcision reduces the risks of various diseases. Boys who remain uncircumcised are at a greater risk for Urinary Tract Infection,1 the human papilloma virus,2 and penile cancer, although the risk of contracting penile cancer among both circumcised and uncircumcised men is small.3 Circumcision may also reduce the risk of contracting HIV, although findings to date are insufficiently strong to be definitive.4,5 However, occasionally, complications such as bleeding or infection may occur with circumcision.6 Additionally, some research shows that infants feel pain when experiencing circumcision that may continue after the circumcision is complete.7
In its most recent policy statement on the subject, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that “current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks,” and that “the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.”8 More information is provided for parents at this AAP site: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/decisions-to-make/pages/Circumcision.aspx
Between 1979 and 2001, the percentage of male infants who were circumcised in the hospital remained relatively constant, ranging between 59 and 65 percent. However, between 2001 and 2003, the percentage of male infants circumcised decreased from 63 to 56 percent. Since then, the proportion has remained at this level. (Figure 2)
The percentage of male newborns in the western region of the United States receiving circumcisions has significantly decreased, from 64 percent in 1979 to 32 percent in 2007. However, the percentage in 2008 was the highest it had been in a decade, at 41 percent. (Figure 1) This decrease may be reflective of an increase in the proportion of Hispanic infants, who are less likely to receive circumcisions than are white and black infants.10
Differences by Region
Male infants born in the Midwest were about two times more likely than those born in the West to have been circumcised in 2008 (71 versus 40 percent, respectively). The same year, 65 percent of male infants born in the Northeast, and 55 percent of male infants born in the South were circumcised. (Figure 1)
Differences by Race10
In 2008, white male infants were somewhat more likely than their black counterparts to have been circumcised (63 versus 58 percent, respectively). Until the early 1990s, white male infants were about eight percentage points more likely than black male infants to have been circumcised; subsequently, these percentages were similar until 2001. For the next few years, black male infants were more likely to have been circumcised; however, this trend reversed in 2007 and 2008. (Figure 2) It is important to note that these estimates include data for Hispanic infants, who may be of any race. Studies show that non-Hispanic white infants are significantly more likely than Hispanic or non-Hispanic black infants to be circumcised, even accounting for regional differences.11
State and Local Estimates
Estimates for the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are available at http://www.cirp.org/library/statistics/
This indicator refers only to newborn males with circumcisions performed during short-stay hospital visits. This does not include newborn males who were circumcised elsewhere. Circumcision is a surgical procedure in which the skin covering the end of the penis (foreskin) is removed.12
Raw Data Source
National Hospital Discharge Survey
Recommended citation: Child Trends (2012). Infant Male Circumcision. Retrieved from http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/384
Last update: October 2012
1Schoen, E. J., Colby, C. J., and Ray, T. (2000). Newborn circumcision decreases incidence and costs of urinary tract infections during the first year of life, Pediatrics 105(4), 789-793.
2Lane, T. (2002).Male circumcision reduces risk of both acquiring and transmitting human papillomavirus infection, International Family Planning Perspectives, 28(3), 179-180.
3American Academy of Pediatrics, Circumcision: Information for parents. Available online at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/decisions-to-make/pages/Circumcision.aspx
4Bailey, R. C., Plummer, F. A., and Moses, S. (2001). Male circumcision and HIV prevention: Current knowledge and future research directions, THE LANCET Infectious Diseases 1, 223-231.
5U.S. Agency for International Development. (2002). Male circumcision: Current epidemiological and field evidence—Program and policy implications for HIV prevention and reproductive health. Available at: http://www.path.org/publications/detail.php?i=1048
6American Academy of Pediatrics. Op cit.
7Warnock, F. and Sandrin, D. (2004) Comprehensive description of newborn distress behavior in response to acute pain (newborn male circumcision), Pain 107(2004), 242-255.
8American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Circumcision policy statement. Pediatrics, 130(3), 585-586.9Ibid.
9National Center for Health Statistics. (2004) Trends in circumcision among newborns. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/circumcisions/circumcisions.htm
10Hispanics may be any race.
11Leibowitz, A. A., Desmond, K. Thomas Belin, T. (2009). Determinants and policy implications of male circumcision in the United States, American Journal of Public Health, 99(1): 138-145. Available at: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2008.134403.
12American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Op cit.