The health benefits of newborn circumcision—including reduced chances of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and the transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV—outweigh the risks, according to a policy statement published today by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In an update to its 13-year-old policy, reports the AP, the leading pediatricians group stops just short of endorsing the procedure, but does recommend that insurance companies pay for it. Some 18 states have cancelled Medicaid funding for circumcisions, which can cost up to $600.
Previously, the AAP had believed health benefits were not sufficient to recommend circumcision. The update explains that "benefits ... justify access to this procedure for those families who choose it." It also noted that pain relief stronger than a sugar-coated pacifier, such as a numbing injection, should be used. With the circumcision rate in the United States down to 55% from 79% three decades ago, one recent study claimed that the US health care system could face an additional $4 billion in costs over the next decade if rates continue to fall. See the complete report in Pediatrics. (Read more circumcision stories.)