Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin from the human penis. It is most often an elective surgery performed on babies and children for cultural or religious reasons. In some cases, it may be done as a treatment option for chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other and other medical conditions.
Circumcision is not medically necessary and is a controversial procedure. The procedure faces ethical and legal questions regarding informed consent and human rights for the circumcision of babies and children. It is also considered a rights violation if performed on females or another species. Some of the world's major medical organizations argue that elective circumcision has some health benefits and outweigh the small risks associated with the procedure, while other organizations consider elective circumcision to have no benefits and significant risks. Because of this, circumcision rates vary greatly by country.
In some cases (especially for religiously observant Jews), circumcision is performed in a religious ceremony or outside a hospital setting. But in most cases, circumcision is performed by an obstetrician in a hospital. Circumcision rates are thus reported by hospitals and may undercount circumcisions performed in other settings or on older children or adults.
The highest circumcision rates in the U.S. are in the Midwest, with Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and Michigan all reporting rates above 80%. The lowest rates are in the Southwest, with Nevada, Arizona, and California all reporting rates below 25%.
In the United States, as many as 85% of male newborns were circumcised in 1965. But that number has fallen steadily for the past half-century, especially as immigration from countries where circumcision is not common has increased. In 2011, the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, as reported by U.S. hospitals, put newborn males' circumcision rate at 57%.
Circumcision rates also vary based on other factors. Nationally, circumcision rates are higher in suburban and rural areas and lower in large metropolitan areas. Hispanic people are much less likely to circumcise their sons than Black or white people. Additionally, parents are more inclined to circumcise their son if they themselves were. A 2007 study found that 90% of circumcised fathers choose to circumcise their sons, while only 23% of noncircumcised fathers chose to circumcise.
Please note that the figures used in this article are from 2012 but are the most recent numbers found. Circumcision rates have declined significantly in the last decade or so, and actual rates might be lower than those presented in this article.