Its old stance said that potential medical benefits were not sufficient to warrant recommending routinely circumcising newborn boys. The new one says, "The benefits of newborn male circumcision justify access to this procedure for those families who choose it." The academy also says that pain relief stronger than a sugar-coated pacifier is essential, usually an injection to numb the area.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that circumcision costs range from about $200 to $600 nationwide. Coverage varies among insurers, and several states have stopped Medicaid funding for circumcisions.
The new policy was to be published online Monday in Pediatrics. It comes amid ongoing debate over whether circumcision is medically necessary or a cosmetic procedure that critics say amounts to genital mutilation. Activists favoring a circumcision ban made headway in putting it to a vote last year in San Francisco, but a judge later knocked the measure off the city ballot, ruling that regulating medical procedures is up to the state, not city officials.
In Germany, Jewish and Muslim leaders have protested a regional court ruling in June that said circumcision amounts to bodily harm.
Meantime, a recent study projected that declining U.S. circumcision rates could add more than $4 billion in health-care costs in coming years because of increased illness and infections.
Circumcision involves removing foreskin at the tip of the penis. The procedure can reduce germs that can grow underneath the foreskin, and complications are rare, the academy says.
Despite the U.S. decline, about half of baby boys nationwide still undergo circumcision, or roughly 1 million each year. The country's overall rate is much higher than in other developed nations, but U.S. rates vary by region and are higher in areas where it is a cultural or religious tradition, including among Jews and Muslims.
Psychologist Ronald Goldman, director of an anti-circumcision group, the Circumcision Resource Center, said studies show circumcision causes loss of sexual satisfaction - a claim the academy said is not supported by the research it reviewed - and can be psychologically harming.