According to a new policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the medical benefits of circumcision outweigh its small risks, and the procedure should be covered by health insurers.
Monday’s statement moves the country’s most influential pediatricians group closer to an endorsement, though AAP says the decision should be up to parents. “It’s not a verdict from on high,” said policy co-author Dr. Andrew Freedman, a pediatric urologist in Los Angeles.
AAP’s previous stance was that the potential medical benefits did not sufficiently warrant recommending routine circumcision for newborn males. However, recent research showing circumcision reduces the chances of HIV and other STD infections, urinary tract infections, and penile cancer prompted the group to update their 13-year-old policy.
“The benefits of newborn male circumcision justify access to this procedure for those families who choose it,” the AAP’s new policy states. Pain relief stronger than a sugar-coated pacifier - preferably an injection to numb the area - is essential, AAP notes.
Coverage for the procedure, which CDC estimates costs $200-$600 nationwide, varies among insurers. In 18 states, Medicaid programs no longer fund circumcision. While US rates have declined over the years, about half of baby boys nationwide undergo circumcision each year. The US rate is markedly higher than those of other developed nations, though rates vary by region and are higher in areas where it is a cultural or religious tradition. A recent study projected that declining rates could amount to more than $4 billion in US health care costs in coming years due to increased infections and illness.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists participated in the research review that led to AAP’s new policy and has endorsed it. CDC also participated in the review and will consider the academy’s update in preparing its own recommendations, an agency spokesperson said.
[PNU editor’s note: To view the AAP policy statement, visit http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/08/22/peds.2012-1989.]
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