Circumcision and Male Infant Mortality

Infant mortality is infant deaths in the first year per 1000 births. Male infants have a higher rate of mortality than female infants. Here is a comparative table for American births. The ratio of male infant mortality to female infant mortality yields the excess male infant mortality figures in the second column.

Excess Male
Infant Mortality
National Percent Circumcised
1942 1.26 66
1946 1.28 70
1950 1.295 80
1954 1.30 85
1958 1.30 81
1962 1.295 85
1966 1.295 85
1970 1.29 81
1979 1.245 64.5
1982 1.24 62.5
1986 1.255 59.4
1990 1.25 59.0

The rise (1942-1950) and fall (1970-1979) of excess male infant mortality coincides with rising and falling circumcision rates. Values are taken from graphs and are approximate. Circumcision rates between 1942 and 1970 are from Laumann et al. “Circumcision in the United States” Journal of the American Medical Association 1997;277:1052-1057. Later circumcision rates are from the National Center for Health Statistics. Excess infant mortality rates are from Drevenstedt et al. “The Rise and Fall of Excess Male Infant Mortality” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2008;105:5016-5021.


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