What is the AAP’s position on circumcision?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), in August 2012, issued a joint policy statement on male circumcision, saying “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks” and “the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.” 

Among the benefits of circumcision are reduced risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), penile cancer, and some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Prior to publicly supporting elective male circumcision for infants, adolescents, or adults, members of the AAP’s Task Force on Circumcision examined peer-reviewed journal articles from 1995–2010, including clinical trials conducted in Africa from 2005–2010. They concluded that male circumcision “is well tolerated when performed by trained professionals under sterile conditions with appropriate pain management,” complications are “infrequent,” and severe complications “rare.” When circumcision is done during the newborn period, complication rates are “considerably lower,” than when the procedure is performed later in life. 

Parents should note that although the AAP does recommend that families have access to circumcision and that insurance companies cover the cost of the procedure, the pediatric organization does not recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns. Rather, the AAP recommends that health care providers “routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks … in an unbiased and accurate manner” and that parents “decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their male child,” considering medical information alongside personal “religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices.”

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