The health benefits of newborn male circumcision are great enough that health insurance should cover the procedure, according to a new policy statement published in the September 2012 issue of Pediatrics by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Since the last policy was published in 2005, new research shows clearer health benefits than previously demonstrated. Those include lower risks of acquiring HIV, genital herpes, human papillomavirus and syphilis. Circumcision also lowers the lifetime risk of penile cancer, reduces the risk of cervical cancer in sexual partners and lowers the risk of urinary tract infections in the first year of life.
However, the benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all newborn boys, according to the academy.
"Ultimately, this is a decision that parents will have to make," Dr. Susan Blank, chair of the task force that authored the policy statement and technical report, said in a press statement. Parents should receive accurate and unbiased information about the procedure, "and they should weigh this medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical and cultural beliefs," she added.
Medical data show that the procedure is safest and offers the most health benefits if performed during the newborn period, according to the academy. The policy says infant circumcision should be performed by trained and competent providers, using sterile techniques and effective pain management.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorsed the policy.