A new study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics has found that the percentage of newborns who are circumcised in the United States have witnessed a 10 percent decline over the years.

The percentage of circumcision in hospitals has come down to 58.3 percent in 2010 from 64.5 percent in 1979.

The nation’s leading pediatrics group says the health benefits of newborn circumcision outweighs the risks, but rates for the procedure declined over the past three decades.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage fell from 64.5% to 58.3% during the 32-year span. It was highest in 1981 at 64.9%, and lowest in 2007 at 55.4%. However the figures do not include circumcisions outside hospitals for religious or other reasons, says study co-author Maria Owings.


Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its policy on circumcision of newborns, saying that the health benefits outweigh potential risks. Numbers have gone up and down over the years.

One factor that may account for the overall decline in hospital-based circumcisions may be the decreased time babies now spend in the hospital, says pediatrician Douglas Diekema of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

“Often they’re going home within 24 hours, so in some places, these procedures are increasingly being done by the pediatrician during the follow-up period in the doctor’s office or clinic as opposed to the hospital,” Diekema says.


Circumcision is a surgical procedure in which the foreskin of the penis is removed. According to a WHO report, about 30 percent  of males worldwide in the age group 15 or above undergo circumcision. It is religious practice mostly adopted by Muslims. About 69 percent Muslims practice circumcision and only 1 percent  Jewish undergo such process.

There are several health benefits linked with the process. Recent research suggests circumcision does “help prevent certain kinds of infections,” says pediatrics group president Thomas McInerny.

In particular, “there is some evidence that the cells that make up the inner surface of the foreskin may provide an optimal target for the HIV virus.” Research also shows that circumcised males have a lower risk of urinary tract infections and penile cancer, he says.

Complications associated with circumcisions are rare, and include minor bleeding, local infection and pain, says Diekema, but those factors can be easily treated.