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Originally published at Jewish Business News

Religious Jewish circumcision, as well as your run-of-the-mill hospital circumcision, are done in the first couple of weeks of life. But in 6 percent of U.S. boys, the procedure is done much later, according to new research, increases the risk of complications and increases costs.

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The study, published online Oct. 20 in Pediatrics, analyzed 2010 MarketScan claims data from commercial health plans, using procedural codes to identify circumcisions performed on males aged 0 to 18 years, and diagnostic codes to assess clinical indications for the procedure.

“Among circumcisions performed in the first year of life, we estimated rates for neonates and postneonates. We estimated the percentage of circumcisions by age among males who had circumcisions in 2010, and the mean payment for neonatal and postneonatal procedures.”

The study found that 156,247 circumcisions were performed, with 146,213 (93.6%) in neonates and 10,034 (6.4%) in postneonates.

Among postneonatal circumcisions, 46.6% were performed in males younger than 1 year and 25.1% were for nonmedical indications. The mean payment was $285 for a neonatal and $1,885 for a postneonatal circumcision.

The study concluded that “the large number of nonmedical postneonatal circumcisions suggests neonatal circumcision might be a missed opportunity for these boys. Delay of nonmedical circumcision results in greater risk for the child, and a more costly procedure.”

Islamic traditions do not determine a particular time for circumcision, despite the commonly held notion (among non-Muslims) that they follow the example of biblical Ishmael, who was circumcised at 13 years old.

The age of circumcision in Islam depends on family and geography. A majority of Muslims believe parents should circumcise their child before the age of ten, preferably seven. In any event, it should be done before puberty. In Malaysia, the operation is a rite of puberty, separating the boy from childhood and ushering him into adulthood.

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