Cultural Bias in American Medicine: The Case of Infant Male Circumcision

Brian D. Earp, David Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement and technical report stating that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks. In response, a group of mostly European doctors suggested that this conclusion may have been due to cultural bias among the AAP Task Force on Circumcision, in part because the AAP’s conclusion differed from that of international peer organizations despite relying
on a similar evidence base. In this article, we evaluate the charge
of cultural bias as well as the response to it by the AAP Task Force, focusing on possible sources of subjective judgments that could play into assessments of benefit versus risk. Along the way, we discuss ongoing disagreements about the ethical status of nontherapeutic infant male circumcision and draw some more general lessons about the problem of cultural bias in medicine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-26
Number of pages20
JournalThe Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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