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To circumcise or not to circumcise?

Religious tradition, hygiene and health practice, or outmoded, unnecessary procedure – whatever parents think of circumcision, new evidence says fewer of them are opting for it for their own sons. A report issued this week from the National Center for Health Statistics says rates for the procedure have declined almost 10% in the past three decades, down from 64.5 percent in 1979 to 58.3 percent in 2010.

The question of circumcision has long been a passionately debated one, with conflicting medical advice about its value and risks. The World Health Organization says there "is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%,"  but the American Academy of Pediatrics says "the benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all newborn boys." 

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