Medical milestone

Doctors induce lactation in transgender woman so she can breastfeed partner’s child

Nurse practitioner Zil Goldstein (L) and Dr. Tamar Reisman, the authors of the groundbreaking study. (Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York)

Doctors in New York City have achieved a medical milestone by successfully inducing lactation in a transgender woman, enabling her to produce sufficient breast milk to feed her partner’s newborn infant for six weeks.

Dr. Tamar Reisman and Zil Goldstein, a nurse practitioner, at the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York, said that they had been approached in 2011 by a 30-year-old woman who was born male about the possibility of breast-feeding her then-pregnant partner’s baby. Using a regimen of drugs that included progesterone and estradiol, hormones that induce lactation and that normally occur in pregnant women, as well as domperidone, an anti-nausea drug known to increase breast milk production, they were able to induce the lactation of droplets of milk within a month of treatment. After three months, milk production had increased to eight ounces of milk a day.

“We believe that this is the first formal report in the medical literature of induced lactation in a transgender woman,” wrote Dr. Reisman and Ms. Goldstein in a summary of their findings published in the journal Transgender Health.

It is not yet clear whether breast milk produced in this way is equivalent to breast milk produced by women who are not transgender. Nutritional questions aside, one concern raised by transgender activists is the possibility of hormones being excreted in the milk. The authors of the study said that the woman, who continued to take the drug spironolactone, which blocks testosterone and can be “excreted in human milk,” exclusively breast-fed the infant for six weeks before supplementing with formula due to concerns over milk volume. A pediatrician who monitored the baby during that time said that the child was developing normally. According to the study’s authors, the baby is now six months old.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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