By Rob Stein

Fewer U.S. newborns are getting circumcised at the hospital, according to a federal analysis released Thursday.

The analysis of three separate surveys found that the proportion of boys being circumcised before their parents take them home dropped over the last decade, researchers from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The percentage of boys circumcised in the hospital fell from 62.5 percent in 1999 to 56.9 percent in 2008, according to the National Hospital Discharge Survey, which is conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. It declined from 63.5 percent in 1999 to 56.3 percent in 2008 according to the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, which is conducted by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. And it dropped from 58.4 percent in 2001 to 54.7 percent in 2010, according to the Charge Data Master, which is conducted by SDIHealth, a private source.
The decreases come after circumcision rates had been on the rise. During the previous 10-year period, the circumcision rate increased from 48.3 percent during 1988 – 1991 to 61.1 percent during 1997 – 2000, according to the report published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The data comes amid an intense debate in the United States about circumcision. In San Francisco, opponents tried to ban the practice, likening circumcision to female genital mutilation. But others defend the practice on religious, cultural and medical grounds. Recent studies also indicate circumcision can have health benefits, most notably decreasing the risk of becoming infected with the AIDS virus and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The new analysis likely underestimates the proportion of boys being circumcised because it only includes procedures done in hospital. The analysis did not examine the reason for the decline, but noted that cost could be an issue.
“Many factors likely influence rates of” circumcision, according to the report. “A recent survey found that, after controlling for other factors, hospital in states in which Medicaid covers routine male circumcision had circumcision rates that were 24 percentage points higher than in hospitals in states without such coverage.”
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC plan to release new guidelines about circumcision.
The CDC also reported two other interesting bits of information:
–More than half–58 percent–of antibiotic prescriptions for office visits among children younger than age 14 were for acute respiratory infections, most of which do not require antibiotics.
–Childhood vaccinations have increased for children for most diseases that are preventable with inoculations. Rates for most recommended vaccines are at or above 90 percent, according to the report.
By Rob Stein  |  12:00 PM ET, 09/01/2011