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Study: Decline in infant circumcision will cost health care system

Posted On Tue, August 21, 2012

According to a study released by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, a decline in infant circumcision has cost the healthcare industry billions of dollars already, and as the decline continues, the costs will rise.

Over the last 30 years, circumcision rates have been falling steadily as insurance companies decline to cover the "cosmetic" surgery. Today, approximately 55 percent of baby boys are circumcised, compared to the peak of 79 percent in the 1970s.

However, according to the study, circumcision may not be just a cosmetic surgery. Johns Hopkins researchers, among other leading medical journals, have traced a link between a lack of circumcision and serious health problems later in life, including a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections.

According to the Johns Hopkins Health Library, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in 1999 on circumcision, stating that it could not confirm any health benefits. The Academy reaffirmed the statement in 2005.

However, the new study shows that the decline in circumcision has already cost the healthcare industry $2 billion in treatments. Although many families struggling to make ends meet complain that the surgery is not covered under standard health insurance rates, the average circumcision costs $254, while the average uncircumcised male racks up an extra $313 in medical costs that would not have existed if he had been circumcised.

In Europe, the rate of infant circumcision sits at one in 10. If American rates drop to that level, which researchers are predicting based on the current decline, it will cost the healthcare industry $4.4 billion in treatments.

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