Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin from the human penis. The procedure is an elective surgery, usually performed on newborns or babies, primarily for cultural or religious reasons. In rare cases, circumcision may be performed on older children or adults for medical reasons, including recurrent urinary tract infections. In sub-Saharan Africa, circumcision is also medically indicated as it helps to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS.
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 percent 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.