Objectives: In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed legislation making female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) illegal in the United States. CDC published the first estimates of the number of women and girls at risk for FGM/C in 1997. Since 2012, various constituencies have again raised concerns about the practice in the United States. We updated an earlier estimate of the number of women and girls in the United States who were at risk for FGM/C or its consequences.
Methods: We estimated the number of women and girls who were at risk for undergoing FGM/C or its consequences in 2012 by applying country-specific prevalence of FGM/C to the estimated number of women and girls living in the United States who were born in that country or who lived with a parent born in that country.
Results: Approximately 513,000 women and girls in the United States were at risk for FGM/C or its consequences in 2012, which was more than three times higher than the earlier estimate, based on 1990 data. The increase in the number of women and girls younger than 18 years of age at risk for FGM/C was more than four times that of previous estimates.
Conclusion: The estimated increase was wholly a result of rapid growth in the number of immigrants from FGM/C-practicing countries living in the United States and not from increases in FGM/C prevalence in those countries. Scientifically valid information regarding whether women or their daughters have actually undergone FGM/C and related information that can contribute to efforts to prevent the practice in the United States and provide needed health services to women who have undergone FGM/C are needed.