Parents often choose to circumcise their infant sons because of religious, cultural, or health reasons. Some research shows that circumcision reduces the risks of various diseases. Boys who remain uncircumcised are at a greater risk for Urinary Tract Infection, the human papilloma virus, and penile cancer, although the risk of contracting penile cancer among both circumcised and uncircumcised men is small. Circumcision may also reduce the risk of contracting HIV, although findings to date are insufficiently strong to be definitive., However, occasionally, complications such as bleeding or infection may occur with circumcision. Additionally, some research shows that infants feel pain when experiencing circumcision that may continue after the circumcision is complete.
In its most recent policy statement on the subject, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that “current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks,” and that “the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.” More information is provided for parents at this AAP site.
Between 1979 and 2001, the percentage of male infants
who were circumcised in the hospital remained relatively constant, ranging between 59 and 65 percent. Between 2001
and 2003, the percentage of male infants circumcised decreased from 63 to 56 percent. Since then, the proportion has remained approximately at this level. In 2010, the rate was 58 percent. (Figure 1)
In 2008, the latest data available, white male infants
were somewhat more likely than their black counterparts to have been circumcised (63 versus 58 percent, respectively). Until the early 1990s, white male infants were about eight percentage points more likely than black male infants to have been circumcised; subsequently, these percentages were similar until 2001. For the next few years, black male infants were more likely to have been circumcised; however, this trend reversed in 2007 and 2008. (Figure 1) It is important to note that these estimates include data for Hispanic infants, who may be of any race. Studies show that non-Hispanic white infants are significantly more likely than Hispanic or non-Hispanic black infants to be circumcised, even accounting for regional differences.
Male infants born in the Midwest were about two times more
likely than those born in the West to have been circumcised in 2010 (71 versus 40 percent, respectively). That same year, 66 percent of male infants born in the Northeast, and 58 percent of male infants born in the South, were circumcised. (Figure 2)
In the western region of the United States, the percentage of male newborns receiving circumcisions has significantly
decreased, from 64 percent in 1979 to 32 percent in 2007. However, this rate has increased in recent years, and was 40 percent in 2010. (Figure 2) The long-term decline in the region may be reflective of an increase in the proportion of
Hispanic infants, who are less likely to be circumcised than are white and black infants.
Estimates for the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are available from the Circumcision Information and Resource Pages.
This indicator refers only to newborn males with circumcisions performed during short-stay hospital visits. This does not
include newborn males who were circumcised elsewhere. Circumcision is a surgical procedure in which the skin covering the end of the penis (foreskin) is removed.
Data for 2009-2010: Owings, M., Uddin, S., & Williams, S. (2013). Trends in circumcision for male newborns in U.S. hospitals: 1979-2010. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/circumcision_2013/circumcision_2013.htm
Data for 1979-2008: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012)
National hospital discharge survey: Data highlights – Male newborn
circumcision. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhds/nhds_tables.htm#male
National Hospital Discharge Survey
|Race and Hispanic Origin|
|Race and Hispanic Origin|
|1Total estimates presented here include all races.
for 1979-2008: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012) National hospital discharge survey: Data
highlights – Male newborn circumcision.
Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhds/nhds_tables.htm#male. Data for
2009-2010: Owings, M., Uddin, S., & Williams, S. (2013). Trends in circumcision for male newborns in
U.S. hospitals: 1979-2010. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health
Statistics. Available at:
Schoen, E. J., Colby, C. J., and Ray, T. (2000). Newborn circumcision decreases incidence and costs of urinary tract infections during the first year of life, Pediatrics 105(4), 789-793.
Lane, T. (2002).Male circumcision reduces risk of both acquiring and transmitting human papillomavirus infection, International Family Planning Perspectives, 28(3), 179-180.
American Academy of Pediatrics, Circumcision: Information for parents. Available online at:http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/decisions-to-make/pages/Circumcision.aspx
Bailey, R. C., Plummer, F. A., and Moses, S. (2001). Male circumcision and HIV prevention: Current knowledge and future research directions, THE LANCET Infectious Diseases 1,223-231.
U.S. Agency for International Development. (2002). Male circumcision: Current epidemiological and field evidence–Program and policy implications for HIV prevention and reproductive health. Available at: http://www.path.org/publications/detail.php?i=1048
American Academy of Pediatrics. Op cit.
Warnock, F. and Sandrin, D. (2004) Comprehensive description of newborn distress behavior in response to acute pain (newborn male circumcision), Pain 107(2004), 242-255.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Circumcision policy statement. Pediatrics, 130(3), 585-586.
Hispanics may be any race, and estimates for whites and blacks include Hispanics.
Leibowitz, A. A., Desmond, K. Thomas Belin, T. (2009). Determinants and policy implications of male circumcision in the United States, American Journal of Public Health, 99(1): 138-145. Available
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Op cit.
Child Trends Databank. (2014). Infant male circumcision. Available at: https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=infant-male-circumcisionLast updated: January 2014