I have many new parents who ask me about the pros/cons of circumcising their newborn sons. As of today, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just released a new policy statement on circumcision. The last recommendations were made in 1999. The new policy statement will also be published in the September 2012 issue of the journal Pediatrics.
After a significant review of the scientific evidence, the AAP agrees that male circumcision has been shown to have “health benefits that outweigh the risk of the procedure”. The AAP policy statement does not recommend routine circumcision for all newborn males, but does believe that “the benefits are enough to warrant access to the procedures for those families choosing it, and should be covered by insurance.” This is a stronger statement regarding the medical benefits of circumcision than was made in the 1999 statement.
Circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections including HIV, syphilis, HPV, and genital herpes. Circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of penile cancer as well as cervical cancer in sexual partners. Circumcision also reduces the risk of urinary tract infection in a baby’s first year of life. The reason the AAP issued this new policy statement? The data shows numerous medical benefits of circumcision and the health benefits outweigh the risks.
Although the AAP does not “routinely recommend” circumcision, they do believe that the final decision remains with parents, which is the same language used in the 1999 policy statement. The policy statement states “parents are entitled to factually correct and non-biased information about circumcision and must be allowed to weight the health benefits and risks in light of their own cultural, religious and personal preferences”.
So, if you are having a new baby boy, discuss the AAP policy as it relates to circumcision, and ask your own doctor about the details of the new policy statement. It is important that every parent ask questions and make a decision for their newborn son based on the best science available. As a parent you will make many decisions for your child based upon not only science but also your own beliefs.
Every parent is forced with these decisions throughout their child’s life, and this may be one of the first decisions a parent will make for their newborn son.