CDC: Fewer Parents Choosing To Circumcise

According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) in the US, fewer parents are choosing to circumcise their newborn sons. The long debated hot topic may be coming to an end in the US.

The data on circumcision has been hit and miss. Some studies show it has benefits, others show it has none.  Even of those who feel the medical act has benefits, many agree it is better to wait and let their sons decide for themselves.

In 2006, 53 percent of sons were circumcised as newborns. By 2009, the CDC study found that only 33 percent were. This drop has been part of a long declining trend, as the rates in 1980 were 60 percent, dropping to 55 percent in 1995. This stunning drop is considered by some to be proof that the age old practice is going the way of other old fashioned medical procedures.

The drop, however, has not been uniform across the nation. The Midwest and Northeast still have higher rates of circumcision, while other areas are seeing a larger drop. Rural areas also have higher rates than larger cities. It seems, to some doctors, that the decision is still more a cultural one than a medical or religious act.

“Social norm is the only thing that matters to most parents I see,” said Dr. Karl Chun of Fairview Children’s Clinic. “People walk in and say, ‘I want it done,’ or ‘I don’t want it done.’ Rarely does anyone change their mind based on anything medically related I tell them.”

Some supporters of circumcision point to studies that have found the procedure offering a possible preventative measure for urinary tract infections, penile cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. However, opponents have long pointed out that proper hygiene as well as safe sex measures are more proven to control these concerns.

Groups, such as the New York-based Intact America and Minnesota NICE (Newborn Infant Circumcision Education), has been advocating for parents to choose not to circumcise. They call the procedure cruel and unnatural, on top of being unnecessary. Many parents are beginning to agree.

In 2006, Medicaid stopped paying for circumcisions for parents using the government health insurance. The procedure was considered cosmetic, and not medically necessary. Many private insurance companies have also either stopped covering circumcision completely or partially. Parents who want the procedure often have to turn to clinics rather than hospitals, where the fee can be much higher to be done. Some say it is this shift from hospitals to private clinics that are at the root of the study’s drop, rather than an actual drop in numbers.

Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not support circumcision for medical reasons, though it does say the choice is up to parents. The CDC is planning on issuing new guidelines on circumcision in 2011, yet has not made a statement on what their position may be.

“It usually comes down to the dads who want (their boys) to look like them and like every other guy in the locker room,” said Dr. Mary Keown, chairwoman of pediatrics at Centennial Medical Center.

As the numbers continue to drop, boys who are circumcised will be the ones who do not look like everyone else in the locker rooms. – Summer, staff writer

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About the author


Summer is a mom of three, living life in the slow lane along historic Route 66. She writes, homeschools, gardens, and is still trying to learn how to knit.


  • The estimated 33% US circ rate comes from data collected by a company that handles insurance e-claims from only 21% of US hospitals. The CDC won’t even vouch for the accuracy (hence it is an estimate).

    It is very likely that the rate will be much higher if insurance e-claims from all US hospitals are counted. Then count circumcisions performed in private Drs offices & clinics, parents paying cash (no insurance) and bris performed by rabbi/mohels. After all that, the circumcision rate will be much more accurate.

  • The statistical methodology for determining the 2009 circumcision rate is the same as used to determine the 2006 circumcision rate, which has been generally accepted by just about everyone. Regardless, comparison of the two rates clearly shows a decrease in the number of infant circumcisions. This is good news for baby boys in the US.

    I was circumcised at birth and I wish my parents had been enlightened. I would have preferred to keep my body whole. My penis is my favorite body part. It is a shame I could not keep all of it.

  • Count me as one of the converted. When I had my boys I didn’t want it done, but my ex gave me the ‘I have a medical degree and you don’t, and I say it will be done’ answer and made it clear he would fight me to the end if I didn’t consent. To this day I wish I hadn’t given in, and its a decision I regret enormously.

    On a more personal level, my husband now was my very first time with an uncut man, and all I will say about that is I am now a firm believer in letting the penis be exactly the way nature intended. It’s the best gift you could possibly give any future daughters in law 😉

  • Probably a little late to respond, but just in case someone hits this site:
    I highly regret my bris and am still pretty angry. Since youth I’ve had painful erections (begs the questions….if cir is good, how much, then is chopped off?). Also, the “cosmetic” result is pretty gross. I avoid public showers because I have a horrible dark scar that is crooked and if you look close enough, you can see that I have a few skin tags. Perhaps one of the reasons “they” report that circumcision is a minimal risk and routine is because there’s no data to indicate true complications (like mine) being recorded. The fact is I had an amputation. The head (glans) of my penis is very rough and if I manage to have “good sex,” then I need lots of lubrication and a lot of stimulation. It is almost a chore to have sex in fact. I think that if girls can keep their foreskin (hood), then boys should be able to keep their foreskin, too. I’m angry at my parents not because they did what every other Jew does do innocent baby boys, but because they refuse to acknowledge that I now have issues in my sexual life. Not something I really would prefer to have my parents know, but they pry and wonder why my relationships with women don’t seem to last and one reason is because I just don’t enjoy sex. I feel cheated and in my opinion, any one that advocates circumcision is doing to to either 1) make money, 2) follow social norm, 3) believe propagand that the foreskin in not part of the penile system, 4) love to hurt children….or all of the above. Sorry, but face the truth: we’d never allow a little girl to even have her genitals touched as a baby by a stranger, but we allow baby boys to be restrained and cut. Perverts indeed!

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