August 27, 2012 — New scientific evidence shows that benefits of male circumcision (MC) outweigh its small risks and justify access to the procedure for families who choose it, according to an updated policy statement published online August 27 in Pediatrics by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Benefits cited in the accompanying technical report compiled by the AAP Task Force include the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and decreased transmission of some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV/AIDS, herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV), which has been linked to the development of cancer in men and their female partners.
The report also states that the procedure is "well tolerated when performed by trained professionals under sterile conditions with appropriate pain management," and that complications such as bleeding and infection are rare.
Although the procedure remains elective, prospective parents should be routinely educated regarding the procedure to make an informed decision.
"Ultimately, this is a decision that parents will have to make," said Susan Blank, MD, FAAP, in an AAP news release. "Parents are entitled to medically accurate and non-biased information about circumcision, and they should weigh this medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical and cultural beliefs."
"It's a good idea to have this conversation during pregnancy, and to learn whether your insurance will cover the procedure, so you have time to make the decision," Dr. Blank added, noting that MC should be performed during the newborn period to maximize both safety and health benefits.
Dr. Blank is chair of the task force that authored the AAP policy statement and technical report.
The AAP also supports third-party coverage of MC, the cost of which would be offset by significant long-term health savings.