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Benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks, top US pediatricians' group says

The American Academy of Pediatrics says the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks, but that parents should decide.

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A decline in circumcision could raise the cost of healthcare due to STD rise says a new study. (Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images)

The benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks and insurance companies should pay for it, America's most influential pediatricians group has said.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics said parents should still make the final decision about whether circumcision — which it said reduced the risk of disease — was right for their child.

According to the Associated Press, the group's previous stance was that the potential medical benefits were not sufficient to warrant recommending routinely circumcising newborn boys.

The new stance said: "The benefits of newborn male circumcision justify access to this procedure for those families who choose it."

"It's not a verdict from on high," the AP quoted the co-author of the group's latest policy statement, Dr. Andrew Freedman, as saying.

"There's not a one-size-fits-all-answer."

Whether or not to circumcise a newborn baby boy has long been a subject of heated debate.

The procedure has been shown to prevent urinary infections and sexually transmitted infections — specifically, The New York Times wrote, it may protect heterosexual men against HIV.

However, according to the New York Sun, circumcision is becoming less common in the US thanks largely to immigration patterns in the nation.

Still, circumcision ranks as one of the most common procedures in the world.

In the US, circumcision costs range from about $200 to $600, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The AAP statement, published in Pediatrics, said that parents must "weigh medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices." 

The latest policy statement updated guidelines drafted in 1999.

In 2007, the AAP formed a task force to evaluate more recent evidence on male circumcision and create an update.

The task force included both AAP representatives from specialty areas and members of the AAP Board of Directors, along with representatives of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the CDC.

According to the LA Times, the task force examined 1,031 peer-reviewed articles published between 1995 and 2010, weighing "various aspects of male circumcision, including medical benefits, risks and complications; costs; cultural and religious influences; and effects on sexual function."

Meanwhile, the AAP said pain relief stronger than a sugar-coated pacifier was essential for any circumcision, usually an injection to numb the area.

More from GlobalPost: Circumcision decline may cost US healthcare system billions

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120827/penis-vagina-circumcision-circumcise-boys-pediatricians-pediatrics-health-news