To circumcise or not to circumcise, that is the question that many parents of newborn baby boys have to ponder. Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics have released a new policy endorsing circumcision:
"There is clear evidence that supports the health benefits of circumcision," said Susan Blank, who led the 14-member task force that formulated the new policy being published in the journal Pediatrics.
The statement, and accompanying technical report, marks the first revision of the organization's position since 1999, when the academy backed away from circumcision. At that time, the group, which represents about 60,000 pediatricians nationwide, concluded that there was no clear evidence for or against circumcising newborns. The group affirmed that position in 2005.
Since then, the popularity of circumcision in the United States has declined. Only about 56 percent of newborn males are circumcised.
The academy's task force spent seven years combing through the latest research, analyzing more than a thousand studies. Their conclusion?
For starters, Blank says, circumcision helps baby boys pretty much immediately.
"The health benefits of male circumcision include a drop in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life by up to 90 percent," she says.
But there's a much bigger reason to do it, Blank said. Circumcised males are far less likely to get infected with a long list of sexually transmitted diseases.
"It drops the risk of heterosexual HIV acquisition by about 60 percent. It drops the risk of human papillomavirus [HPV], herpes virus and other infectious genital ulcers," she says.