News Release from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal, Winter 1989 | Go to article overview

News Release from the American Academy of Pediatrics


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released its statement on circumcision, concluding that the procedure has potential medical benefits and advantages, as well as inherent disadvantages and risks.

According to AAP president Donald Schiff, M.D., the Academy is recommending that the decision is one best made by parents in consultation with their physician.

"In addition to the medical aspects, other factors will affect the parents' decisions, including esthetics, religion, cultural attitudes, social pressures, and tradition," the AAP statement says.

Physicians should explain and discuss the benefits and risks of circumcision with parents, and informed consent should be obtained before the procedure is performed. Most male infants born in this country are circumcised in the newborn period, although the circumcision rate appears to be falling.

Since 1971, the AAP has maintained the position that there was no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision of the newborn. New information has recently appeared in the literature suggesting possible medical benefits from newborn circumcision. Summarized below are the main points of the AAP's new statement on circumcision, addressing the new evidence:

Urinary Tract Infections Studies conducted at U.S. Army hospitals in 1985 involving more than 200,000 males showed a greater than tenfold increase in urinary tract infections in uncircumcised male infants; moreover, as the rate of circumcision declined over the years, the incidence of urinary tract infection increased.

However, the AAP statement says: "It should be noted that these studies in Army hospitals are retrospective in design and may have methodological flaws. For example, they do not include all boys born in any single cohort or those treated as outpatients, so the study population may have been influenced by selection bias."

Circumcision "may result in a decreased incidence of urinary tract infection. However, in the absence of well-designed prospective studies, conclusions regarding the relationship of urinary tract infection to circumcision are tentative," according to the statement.

Cancer of the Penis Circumcision has been shown to decrease the incidence of cancer of the penis (a rare condition) among U.S. males. This condition occurs almost exclusively in uncircumcised men. Poor hygiene, lack of circumcision, and certain sexually transmitted diseases all correlate with the incidence of penile carcinoma.

The decision not to circumcise a male infant must be accompanied by a lifetime commitment to genital hygiene to minimize the risk of developing penile cancer.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases "Evidence regarding the relationship of circumcision to sexually transmitted diseases is conflicting," the AAP statement says. …

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