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AAP: Health Benefits of Male Circumcision Outweigh Risks

Last Updated: August 27, 2012.

The health benefits of circumcision for newborn males outweigh the risks, according to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics published online Aug. 27 in Pediatrics.

MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The health benefits of circumcision for newborn males outweigh the risks, according to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published online Aug. 27 in Pediatrics.

Susan Blank, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues from the AAP's Task Force on Circumcision, conducted a systematic review of the literature from 1995 through 2010 to examine the benefits and risks of elective circumcision for male newborns.

The researchers found that, for male newborns, the preventive health benefits of elective circumcision outweighed the procedural risks. Benefits included significant decreases in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life, and later reductions in the risk of heterosexual acquisition of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. When performed by trained professionals under sterile conditions, with appropriate pain management, the procedure was well tolerated. Complications were infrequent and usually minor. Significantly lower complication rates were seen for circumcision performed in the newborn period compared with later in life.

"Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns," the authors write. "It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner."

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