Circumcision Risks, Costs Higher Past Newborn Stage

Delaying circumcision procedure also linked with higher costs.
Delaying circumcision procedure also linked with higher costs.

About 6 percent of U.S. boys are circumcised later than the first days or weeks of life, which increases costs and risks, according to new research published in Pediatrics.

The researchers analyzed insurance billing data that estimated circumcision rates in 2010 for babies up to 1 month (neonates) and older infants up to 1 year old. Of 156,247 circumcisions, "94 percent were performed in neonates," study researcher Karen Hoover, M.D., M.P.H., a researcher in the division of HIV/AIDS prevention of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, told HealthDay. Among the post-newborn circumcisions, almost half (46.6 percent) were done in boys younger than 1 year old.

Delaying circumcision beyond age 1 month increases costs, usually because older boys need general anesthesia to manage the pain, Hoover said. For instance, early circumcision costs about $285 on average, compared to $1,885 later. General anesthesia also increases the risks associated with the procedure.

In a policy statement issued in 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics said the benefits of newborn circumcision outweigh the risks but those benefits "are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns." The decision should be left to parents, the academy said. Hoover suggests that parents discuss circumcision and its risks and benefits with their doctor early in the pregnancy.

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