A Forward analysis of government data shows that 87% of the baby boys born in West Virginia were circumcised in 2009. Two thousand miles west, in Nevada, the procedure was performed on only 12% of baby boys.
It’s a strange disparity in a country where most parents still circumcise their sons. It also stands in stark contrast to Europe, where circumcision is increasingly described as a barbaric act that should be banned.
In the United States, far from debating whether circumcision should be allowed, a spate of new studies and recommendations is actually pointing to the health benefits — and even cost-effectiveness — of circumcision, and warning against falling American circumcision rates.
In the United States, those rates have declined today to about 55%, from a high of almost 80% during the 1970s and ’80s. In Europe, only 10% of boys are circumcised.
A top children’s health group has released a new report recommending circumcision. Read post on Forward Thinking blog.
Most Jews and Muslims are circumcised. But for other boys, race, household income, insurance coverage and ZIP code are good predictors of whether the procedure will be performed.
Just as influential may be the state in which a baby is born.
While 75% of boys born in the Midwest in 2009 had a circumcision, only 25% of boys born in the West that same year were circumcised, according to The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is part of the Department of Health.
At state level, the differences are even more dramatic. About 86% of boys born in Michigan had a hospital circumcision in 2009, compared with just 15% of boys born in Washington.
State health officials seem unable to explain why their circumcision rates are so different.
Several representatives for state health departments and hospital associations declined to comment.