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23 January 2008
Midwest Tops List For Circumcisions
by George Atkinson

Rates of circumcision vary widely across the nation, with new figures showing the Midwest to be a circumcision stronghold while the West reported the lowest figures. The researchers, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, said contributing factors were likely to be racial, ethnic and immigrant populations, as well as insurance coverage.

Circumcision is usually performed for cultural, religious, or cosmetic reasons rather than for medical reasons. The American Academy of Pediatrics maintain there is insufficient evidence that routine circumcision is medically necessary. However, there is research suggesting that some health benefits may be gained, including a slightly decreased risk of developing penile cancer, a lower chance of urinary tract infections in newborns, and a potentially lessened risk of HIV transmission.

The new figures are based on hospital-based circumcisions in 2005 and key findings include:

  • In the West, only 31 percent of newborn boys were circumcised in 2005. That compares with 75 percent in the Midwest, 65 percent in the Northeast, and 56 percent in the South.

  • Factors influencing circumcision rates may include immigration from Latin America and other areas, where circumcision is less common.

  • Insurance coverage was identified as a factor. About 60 percent of circumcisions were billed to private insurance, 31 percent were billed to Medicaid, nearly 3 percent were charged to other public programs, and about 4 percent were uninsured.

  • Nationwide, about 56 percent of newborn boys - 1.2 million infants - were circumcised in 2005. The national rate has remained relatively stable for a decade. It peaked at 65 percent in 1980.

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Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

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