September 2, 2011
The proportion of newborn males being circumcised has slightly declined in the United States in the past decade, according to a new CDC analysis of three independent national databases. In the decade previous to that studied, rates of in-hospital circumcision had increased.
Incidence of newborn male circumcision declined from 62.5 percent in 1999 to 56.9 percent in 2008, according to CDC's National Hospital Discharge Survey. NHDS uses an 8 percent sample of short-stay hospitals, or those with general medical or surgical specialties, from 50 states.
The rate declined from 63.5 percent in 1999 to 56.3 percent in 2008 in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, which is based on a 20 percent sample of U.S. community hospitals (non-federal, short-term, general and other specialties) from 42 states.
The rate also declined -- from 58.4 percent in 2001 to 54.7 percent in 2010 -- in Charge Data Master, private firm SDIHealth's convenience sample of health care reimbursement claims from a 20 percent sample of U.S. short-stay, acute-care, and non-federal hospitals in 48 states and the District of Columbia.
In the preceding period, in-hospital newborn male circumcisions increased from 48.3 percent in 1988-1991 to 61.1 percent during 1997-2000.
The authors referenced "three recent studies showing that circumcision of adult, African heterosexual men reduces their risk of acquiring [HIV] and other sexually transmitted infections." Circumcised males have reduced risk of herpes, human papillomavirus, and genital ulcer disease. Their female partners are at reduced risk of HPV infection, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and genital ulcer disease.
Critics of infant male circumcision, including activists who recently failed in their attempts to let voters decide if the procedure should be banned in San Francisco, liken it to female genital mutilation.
The researchers did not explore the reasons behind the decline. However, they cited a study showing that circumcision rates were 24 percent higher in states whose Medicaid plan covers the procedure compared to those whose plan does not. Thirty-three states provided this coverage in 2009.
The full study, "Trends in In-Hospital Newborn Male Circumcision -- United States, 1999-2010," was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2011;60(34):1167-1168).