The CDC Releases New Recommendations On Circumcision

CDC updates their stance on circumcision in light of new data

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baby boys. JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty

The CDC has released an extensive new report on male circumcision, citing that the medical benefits of the procedure outweigh the potential risks. 

In a report that has garnered a lot of press, the CDC looked at some new research and released recommendations based on current data to help guide parents trying to make a decision about circumcising their infant boys. After listing some of the data, the CDC concluded that, "Male circumcision is a proven effective prevention intervention with known medical benefits.

Financial and other barriers to access to male circumcision should be reduced or eliminated."

The new report centered around research that found that male circumcision significantly reduces the risk of HIV transmission in males, along with other STDs, penile cancer, and urinary tract infections. 

While the data sounds promising, it's not without its limitations. The study, for instance, mainly looked men in Africa, with the highest correlation found in men already at risk for STDs and found that circumcision primarily reduced the risk of men acquiring HIV from female partners who were already infected.

In spite of what some view as a subtle push towards circumcision (and a push for insurance companies to cover the procedure, which is an interesting topic in and of itself), the opposition against circumcision is growing. Worldwide, approximately one in three males are circumcised and in the United States, circumcision rates have also been on the decline, with about a 10% decline rate overall from 1979.

 

With the new research that the CDC is exploring, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is still staying on the fence about a universal recommendation for all male babies to get circumcised. The AAP official policy statement states that the benefits of male circumcision do outweigh the known risks, but that ultimately, the decision should be a personal one made by parents.

 

The bottom line is that although there is some medical data supporting circumcision, for most men the risk of getting the health problems, like penile cancer and HIV, are pretty small anyways, so it is definitely not a decision to take lightly. And because the research about the benefits of circumcision that the CDC is looking into is still preliminary, we will all need to keep our eyes peeled for more concrete answers. 

For more help on answering the question if you should get your baby circumcised, I recommend:

Should I have my new baby circumcised?

Sources:

Male Circumcision Fact Sheet. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed Dec. 13, 2014 online: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/prevention_research_malecircumcision.pdf. 

Owings, M., Uddin, S. M.D., & Williams, S.M.P.H., Division of Health Care StatisticsTrends in Circumcision for Male Newborns in U.S. Hospitals: 1979–2010. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed Dec. 13, 2014 online: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/circumcision_2013/circumcision_2013.htm. 

New Evidence Points to Greater Benefits of Infant Circumcision, But Final Say is Still Up to Parents, Says AAP. (August 27, 2012). American Academy of Pediatrics Press Release. Accessed December 13, 2014 online:  http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/New-Benefits-Point-to-Greater-Benefits-of-Infant-Circumcision-But-Final-Say-is-Still-Up-to-parents-Says-AAP.aspx#sthash.0a1MO6Q1.dpuf. 

Neonatal and child male circumcision: a global review. (April, 2010). World Health Organization and UNAIDS.org. Accessed December 13, 2014: http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/malecircumcision/neonatal_child_MC_UNAIDS.pdf. 

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