Parents and prospective parents who are on the fence about circumcising their newborn baby boys now have two new reports with varying opinions to make them even more confused. The two separate sets of experts analyzed the same study, and they came to wildly different conclusions.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University write in the latest issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine that there is evidence that circumcision carries substantial health benefits. They call on the American Academy of Pediatrics to revise its circumcision policy to recommend the procedure.
Meanwhile, in the Annals of Family Medicine, Australian researchers who looked at the identical study argue that “current evidence fails to recommend widespread neonatal circumcision.”
So if the so-called "experts" can't even come to a unified consensus, what are parents to do? One pediatrician in Ohio said family precedent is often the deciding factor.
“I would have to say that most infants whose fathers are circumcised end up getting circumcised,” Dr. Jean Robertson said. When parents are conflicted, she said, they don’t usually ask about health benefits -- they ask about the pain of the surgery and most parents who get their newborn boys circumcised “desire it for the cosmetic effects.”
As far as the United States, it also apparently depends on where you live. Overall, 80% of newborn boys are circumcised. But according to a 1999 report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (the most recent CDC report on the subject), 81.4% of all baby boys in the Midwest were circumcised, compared to just 36.7% of babies in the West. On the East Coast, 65.4% of baby boys were circumcised. The regional difference is at least partly explained by prevailing attitudes among ethnic groups, with Hispanic boys being much less likely to be circumcised.
So parents, what should you do? Well, it appears the experts are no help, so you are on your own. Here at OpposingViews.com, we have a debate that might help. You can read it here: Should Boys Be Circumcised?