Along with choosing the right crib and seeking out breastfeeding advice, parents-to-be of baby boys have another decision to make: whether or not to circumcise their son. According to the recently released draft of guidelines by the CDC, the benefits to this controversial medical procedure clearly outweigh the risks. Due to religious, personal, and cultural reasons, the Center for Disease Control can’t actually tell parents to circumcise their little bundle of joy, but the updated guidelines conclude that there are potentially significant longterm health benefits associated with the procedure, which is typically performed within the first week or two of life. The cited health benefits include cutting a man’s risk of getting HIV from an infected female partner by 50 to 60%, reducing their risk of genital herpes and HPV by 30% or more, and lowering the risk of urinary tract infections during infancy, and cancer of the penis in adulthood.
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The CDC’s guidelines also include a surprising group that should consider circumcisions: male teenagers. While members of the CDC acknowledge that voluntarily being circumcised as a teen will likely not be a popular decision, they also detail how it can be effective in reducing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. These guidelines are sure to come up against heavy criticism from anti-circumcision advocates who decry the procedure as unnecessary, cruel, and unfair (since the infant being circumcised has no say in the matter). After peaking in popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, circumcision rates have been decreasing in recent decades. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its previous neutral stance and concluded that the health benefits of circumcisions outweigh the risks.
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