Parents of a newborn boy will likely grapple with whether to have him circumcised, weighing cultural, religious, and ethnic traditions, as well as medical factors. While complications are minor and rare, the health benefits are no longer considered strong enough for doctors to recommend routine circumcision, according to a policy the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released last spring. Key points:
Urinary-tract infections: Studies show that 1 in 100 uncircumcised boys get urinary-tract infections in the first year of life, while only 1 in 1,000 circumcised boys do. But researchers have found that nursing an uncircumcised baby in the first six months of life lowers the risk.
Penile cancer: Uncircumcised men are at least three times more likely to get cancer of the penis than men circumcised as newborns. But the overall risk that an uncircumcised man will get penile cancer is extremely low -- around 1 case per year per 100,000 men.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): While some studies have found a lower risk of STDs in circumcised men, others haven't, and the risk can be reduced by using condoms.
So, should you have your son circumcised? The AAP points out that potential medical advantages shouldn't be the motivating factor for the procedure, now performed on an estimated 1.2 million infant boys (2 out of 3) in the U.S. each year. Parents should be given accurate and unbiased information from their physician, the report concludes, to "determine what is in the best interest of the child."