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.
In some cases (especially for religiously observant Jews) circumcision is performed in a religious ceremony or outside of 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 that are 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 percent. The lowest rates are in the Southwest, with Nevada, Arizona, and California all reporting rates below 25 percent.
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 the circumcision rate of newborn males at 57 percent.