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Circumcision Rates in the U.S. Falling Fast

The rate of circumcision in the U.S. is on a steep decline, according to data presented at the International AIDS Conference this year.

Between 2006 and 2009, the rate of the procedure went from 56 percent to 32.5 percent among newborn boys in this country, says the study.  The research was presented last month, but it wasn’t covered by mainstream media until Monday, when The New York Times wrote a piece about the circumcision controversy.

A researcher from the Centers for Disease Control made the original presentation to the AIDS conference, but since then, the CDC itself said it wasn’t involved in the study’s design and hadn’t analyzed the results (a company named SDI Health did the research).  The buzz started because an image from the scientist’s slideshow circulated the web, showing a plummet in circumcision rates over the last few years. Anti-circumcision groups cheered.Federal researchers say that the rate has steadily fallen, but they can’t necessarily vouch for this particular piece of research.  It wasn’t intended to gather data on circumcision rates—the purpose was to look at possible complications from circumcisions (nothing serious was found, according to the Times).

The population in the study didn’t include any non-hospital circumcisions (as practiced in many Jewish families) or anything not covered by insurance.  So it’s likely to be an overestimation of the actual drop.  Nonetheless, 80 percent of American men are circumcised, so even if it’s an exaggeration, circumcision is definitely falling out of favor in this country.

Image: Flickr/jcgoforth

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